learning http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1173/all en-US Beat Stress With These 28 Inexpensive Pastimes http://www.wisebread.com/beat-stress-with-these-28-inexpensive-pastimes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beat-stress-with-these-28-inexpensive-pastimes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/father_son_fishing_70352103.jpg" alt="Father and son beating stress with inexpensive pastimes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Expensive activities are stressful for me because paying for them weighs on my mind. I enjoy cheap or free pastimes, and even some pastimes that make money. Here are some inexpensive pastimes that you can enjoy to stay blissfully preoccupied without spending much money.</p> <h2>Exercise</h2> <p>The payoffs for regular exercise are immense, not least is the relaxation.</p> <h3>1. Bicycling</h3> <p>Bicycling can be a very inexpensive hobby. I picked up a cheap used bike for $28, rode it for five years, and then sold it for $35! In addition to a bike, there are a few other things you&rsquo;ll need to get started: a bike helmet and a bike lock to keep yourself and your bike safe. If you buy an older bike, you may need to change the tires and inner tubes, but you can do this yourself for only a few dollars. A cheap bike provides transportation, exercise, and entertainment.</p> <h3>2. Walking</h3> <p>Even if you don&rsquo;t have any money at all, you can still enjoy walking. Walking is a convenient way to spend time outside and enjoy the seasons with no special equipment or planning required. When the weather is bad, I enjoy walking indoors in shopping malls.</p> <h3>3. Hiking</h3> <p>Sometimes I like to go to go hiking in a park or trail away from roads and sidewalks. Hiking takes a bit more effort than simply going for a walk near your home or workplace, but provides more opportunities to get close to nature. Most hiking trips are free, but I recently paid $10 to go for a five-hour hike among the redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument while visiting San Francisco. This was the most entertainment I have ever gotten for $10!</p> <h2>Cerebral Activities</h2> <p>After you've worked your muscles, challenge your noodle.</p> <h3>4. Reading</h3> <p>Reading can be free if you get books at a public library or find free classics to read on your electronic devices via sites such as <a href="https://www.gutenberg.org/">Project Gutenberg</a>. It seems like there is a nearly endless supply of new books coming along, plus the old classics to catch up on.</p> <h3>5. Writing</h3> <p>Writing has been a great pastime for me. It is exciting to see my work published, and I have even been able to make some money along the way from writing books, articles, and through advertising on my blog. If you are not ready to publish your work for the world to see, writing a journal for yourself or stories to share with your friends and family is a great way to get started writing.</p> <h3>6. Crossword Puzzles</h3> <p>Crossword puzzles help keep your mind sharp and some people seem to really enjoy doing them. I have tried doing crossword puzzles a few times, but it is too much like doing a homework assignment for me to enjoy. Maybe I need to find some easier crossword puzzles to build up my skills.</p> <h3>7. Brain Games</h3> <p>I have tried brain games on my computer, such as the free trial version of <a href="http://www.lumosity.com/">Lumosity</a>, and I sometimes play Math Blaster on my Android device. There are all kinds of free brain games that exercise your skills and help you stay sharp as you try to beat your high score. Some games even allow you to compare your scores with others.</p> <h3>8. Educational Videos</h3> <p>You no longer need to wait until Sunday evening for NOVA to come on PBS. You can get a wide selection of educational programs any time on Netflix ($8 per month) or YouTube (free). I like to find TED Talks on YouTube to find interesting perspectives on everything from physics to social sciences.</p> <h3>9. Online Courses</h3> <p>There are all kinds of online courses you can take for free, including subjects such as computer programming, statistics, and science. Here are some places to check for online courses that interest you:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm">MIT OpenCourseWare</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.coursera.org/">Coursera</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses">Open Culture</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.khanacademy.org/">Khan Academy</a></li> </ul> <h3>10. Jigsaw Puzzles</h3> <p>Some people get excited about doing jigsaw puzzles and like to receive them as gifts. Jigsaw puzzles can provide many hours of entertainment for not much money, and you do get a sense of satisfaction &mdash; or relief &mdash; when the puzzle is complete. You can pick up used jigsaw puzzles at garage sales for a dollar or two that provide hours of entertainment, but you might find out that there are missing pieces.</p> <h3>11. Ancestry Research/Genealogy</h3> <p>You can make a serious hobby out of researching your ancestry. It is easier than ever to research family history and find links to your family&rsquo;s past. You can get a long way without spending much money and produce research on your family history that will be invaluable to future generations.</p> <h3>12. Learn a Foreign Language</h3> <p>When you learn a foreign language, you learn more than just a bunch of foreign words. You learn about another culture and open up opportunities to meet and learn about new people.</p> <h2>Nature/Outdoor Enjoyment</h2> <p>When you tire of puzzles and brain games, re-connect with nature.</p> <h3>13. Camping</h3> <p>Camping can be a great way to get away and see things from a fresh perspective. You can find places to camp for free, but even if you pay to stay in a campground, you can find places to pitch a tent for around $20 per night.</p> <h3>14. Fishing</h3> <p>Basic fishing equipment doesn&rsquo;t cost a lot of money. You can get an inexpensive rod and reel good enough to catch your dinner for around $25. I still have a lot of the same fishing tackle I used when I was growing up. The price of a seasonal fishing license varies by location. I paid about $20 and was able to go fishing whenever I wanted all summer.</p> <h3>15. Bird-watching</h3> <p>It is hard not to watch the birds at my house. I have seen orioles, blue jays, cardinals, robins, hummingbirds, geese, and even bald eagles. I put out bird feeders to attract birds near my house for easy observation. Even if you don&rsquo;t put out bird feeders, you can probably find interesting birds to watch and enjoy. Binoculars are useful to be able to observe birds high in trees or too far away to see easily.</p> <h2>Food-Related</h2> <p>While you don't want to use food as a coping tool, lots of the activities around food prep are satisfying and relaxing.</p> <h3>16. Gardening</h3> <p>You get to enjoy planning your garden, watching it grow, and then harvest lots of free vegetables. Gardening can be very inexpensive if you start your own seeds and make your own compost to use for fertilizer. Even if you don&rsquo;t have a yard, you can grow vegetables in pots on a patio or deck. If you don&rsquo;t want to rototill a traditional garden, you can grow vegetables in straw bales or build raised beds for easy access.</p> <h3>17. Cooking</h3> <p>Cooking is a great pastime since it reduces the probability that you will spend money on expensive restaurant food. Watch some cooking shows or videos to learn cooking techniques and get ideas for recipes you want to try out. You can get started cooking with only a few pans and utensils.</p> <h3>18. Canning Food</h3> <p>If you have a successful garden, you&rsquo;ll need to do something with all of those vegetables. The first thing I remember canning was salsa we made with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cilantro we grew in the garden. It was messy and a lot of work, but it was fun to make those cans of salsa to save for winter and to give to friends. If you have a freezer, you can use an inexpensive <a href="http://amzn.to/1Y6gll8">vacuum sealer</a> to pull the air out of plastic bags and seal up your produce to freeze without getting freezer burned.</p> <h3>19. Grilling</h3> <p>You can start grilling with a $20 charcoal grill. If $20 is too much for you, you can even make a grill for free! My kids build a kebab pit for free using concrete blocks they found and it works great. I also have a gas grill which is more expensive, but very convenient. Grilling outside is one of my favorite activities, followed closely by eating the food that I grill.</p> <h2>Creative Activities</h2> <p>Nothing is as satisfying as zoning out while making something. The doing is its own reward &mdash; but you'll also be rewarded with some of your own handiwork.</p> <h3>20. Wood shop</h3> <p>One of my favorite pastimes is working in my wood shop. I like to repair things, build small projects, and just spend time in my shop organizing my tools and thinking. A wood shop does not need to be expensive. I built one of my workbenches from a kit and others using recycled kitchen cabinets and countertops. Many of my tools were used tools that people gave me.</p> <h3>21. Photography</h3> <p>You can take surprisingly good photos with a cellphone or cheap digital camera, especially in outdoor lighting. A quality digital SLR camera with a zoom lens runs around $300 and will allow you to take your photography to the next level, providing more control over the camera settings.</p> <h3>22. Musical Instruments</h3> <p>You can pick up cheap used musical instruments on Craigslist or at consignment or pawnshops. Of course, buying the instrument is the easy part &mdash; learning to play it well takes work and practice.</p> <h3>23. Sewing</h3> <p>With a sewing machine, fabric, and a pattern, you can make your own clothes. Collecting bargain fabrics is part of the fun of sewing.</p> <h2>Social Activities</h2> <p>It's a fact of life that other people can be the cause of so much stress. It's also a fact of life that other people are often the cure.</p> <h3>24. Volunteer Work</h3> <p>There are lots of opportunities available to volunteer some of your time working for a good cause. Volunteering can be a good way to do something you enjoy and meet other people with similar interests. Some ideas for volunteering: animal shelter, food pantry, political campaign, church organizations.</p> <h3>25. Visiting</h3> <p>If you get bored hanging around your own house, try going to someone else's house! Visiting friends or family is a cheap way to get out of the house and do something different for a change of pace. Having people come over to visit at your place can inspire you to get cleaning and projects done.</p> <h3>26. Playing Cards</h3> <p>Playing cards is a classic cheap pastime, as long as you aren&rsquo;t placing bets. Poker, bridge, and euchre are some popular card games that allow you to play competitively with others.</p> <h2>Cheap Entertainment</h2> <p>Finally, it's okay to be a couch potato from time to time.</p> <h3>27. Sports Fan</h3> <p>Some people spend a lot as sports fans, paying big money for tickets to games and buying team jerseys and other paraphernalia. But being a sports fan doesn&rsquo;t have to be expensive. I don&rsquo;t subscribe to any TV service, but I can find many of my Iowa Hawkeye football games for free, either on over-the-air TV or on radio broadcasts. Sometimes I can find a free video stream of the game on the Internet.</p> <h3>28. News Junkie</h3> <p>I listen to National Public Radio (NPR) for about an hour every day to keep up on news and world events. When I miss my chance to listen to the news for some reason, I feel out of touch and usually end up going on the Internet to check news stories I am following. Keeping up with the news is a cheap pastime and makes it easy to have an intelligent conversation with anyone you meet.</p> <p><em>What are your favorite cheap pastimes?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beat-stress-with-these-28-inexpensive-pastimes">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-35-best-ways-to-spend-your-free-time-frugally">The 35 Best Ways to Spend Your Free Time (Frugally)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-fun-frugal-things-to-do-tonight-besides-watch-tv">25 Fun, Frugal Things to Do Tonight Besides Watch TV</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-frugal-families-love-boardgame-night">8 Reasons Frugal Families Love Boardgame Night</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-amazing-board-games-you-can-diy">8 Amazing Board Games You Can DIY</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-143-fun-and-frugal-ways-to-spend-your-weekend">Flashback Friday: 143 Fun and Frugal Ways to Spend Your Weekend</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Entertainment crafts exercise fun games hobbies learning leisure pastimes projects things to do Thu, 16 Jun 2016 10:30:09 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1728607 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 More Hobbies You Can Start for Free http://www.wisebread.com/10-more-hobbies-you-can-start-for-free <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-more-hobbies-you-can-start-for-free" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000036662410_Large.jpg" alt="she&#039;s taking up a fun hobby for free" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In a 2014 time use survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics uncovered that Americans &mdash; on average &mdash; spend <a href="http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm">2.8 hours watching television</a> each day. That's a lot of time staring at a box, right?</p> <p>Well, instead of straining your eyes and allowing your brain to transform into mush, maybe it's time for a new hobby. Here are a bunch <em>more</em> cool hobbies you can start today for free! (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-fun-hobbies-you-can-take-up-for-free?ref=seealso">10 Fun Hobbies You Can Take Up for Free</a>)</p> <h2>1. Cooking or Baking</h2> <p>Learning to make better dinners or desserts doesn't have to cost anything outside of your normal grocery budget. There are millions of recipes you can access for free online. To make sure you have the right ingredients and don't go over budget, try meal planning. All you have to do is find recipes that look good, write down what you'll need, and head to the store. You might not be able to make something special every night of the week, so start by cooking on a weekend when you might usually go out.</p> <h2>2. Nature Identification</h2> <p>Take out some books from your local library on nature identification. You can focus on birds, plants, insects, stars, or whatever else interests you most. Then step into your backyard and take a look around. I used to collect leaves so I could figure out the exact type of trees that we had growing in our neighborhood. Now that my daughter is older, she can join me on the adventure.</p> <h2>3. Weather Reporting</h2> <p>Are you always watching the precipitation or other weather events in your area? Your local branch of the National Weather Service likely runs free training sessions on how to become a weather spotter through the <a href="http://skywarn.org/about/">SKYWARN volunteer program</a>. After you've taken the class, you'll work to identify and describe severe weather in your area and report back to your local station.</p> <h2>4. Drawing</h2> <p>I've never been good at art, so I was delighted to find <a href="https://www.drawspace.com">Draw Space</a>. This corner of the web offers free tutorials and instruction on drawing and other art for beginners all the way to advanced artists. Focus on contours, shading, composition, or any other area that interests you.</p> <h2>5. Photography</h2> <p>Yes! You can take up photography for free, provided you have an iPhone (or other cell phone with camera capabilities). And though you might not believe me, you can shoot DSLR-quality photos with your phone and a little knowledge. The <a href="http://iphonephotographyschool.com/iphoneography/">iPhone Photography School</a> has a number of tutorials on everything from &quot;making the most of light&quot; to photo editing.&nbsp;</p> <h2>6. Whittling</h2> <p>Whittling is a relaxing craft that also happens to be free if you have an old pocket knife. According to The Art of Manliness, <a href="http://www.artofmanliness.com/2011/12/12/a-beginners-guide-to-whittling/">softwoods work best</a> (you can find basswood, pine, and others at your local craft shop), but backyard twigs work just as well. Make sure your knife is sharp, learn the basic cuts, and get creative. Your library might have books with ideas for projects.</p> <h2>7. Vlogging</h2> <p>If you're not into writing or blogging, considering heading over to YouTube and starting your own vlog. Creating an account is free and &mdash; if you get popular &mdash; you may even make some money on the side if you link up your channel to Adsense. You can take videos and upload them in no time using your cell phone. What you talk about is up to you, so long as you follow the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/yt/policyandsafety/communityguidelines.html">community guidelines</a>.</p> <h2>8. Dancing</h2> <p>Could your moves use some work? Check out <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl5BOPEjOB6kR8IxzWy3bWg">Club Dance Lessons</a> for free videos on hip-hop, electronic, salsa, and all other types of dance. Whether you're looking for twerking lessons, dance seduction moves, or freestyle grooves, you're covered. Plus, dancing is great exercise if you hate going to the gym.</p> <h2>9. Couponing</h2> <p>I still haven't gotten into coupons, but some of my friends swear this ever-popular hobby saves them tons of cash. You'll likely want to get the Sunday paper, and scour the web for digital deals, but the savings you'll see is most usually worth the few dollars you'll spend. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/score-coupons-for-every-online-store-even-the-ones-that-dont-have-coupons?ref=seealso">Score Coupons for Every Online Store</a>)</p> <h2>10. Meditating</h2> <p>Sure, your body might be fit and active, but what about your mind? Try meditating to relieve stress, lower blood pressure, improve circulation, and more. Gaiam offers a wonderful (and free!) start-up guide for <a href="http://life.gaiam.com/article/meditation-101-techniques-benefits-beginner-s-how">How to Meditate</a>. Start by sitting and closing your eyes. Breathe naturally. Focus your attention on your breath and work up to concentrating in this way for two to three minutes. From there, work your way to longer periods of time.</p> <p><em>Did we miss any cool free hobbies? Let us know in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-more-hobbies-you-can-start-for-free">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-35-best-ways-to-spend-your-free-time-frugally">The 35 Best Ways to Spend Your Free Time (Frugally)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beat-stress-with-these-28-inexpensive-pastimes">Beat Stress With These 28 Inexpensive Pastimes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-common-weekend-money-traps-and-how-to-avoid-them">8 Common Weekend Money Traps (And How to Avoid Them)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-personal-finance-skills-everyone-should-master">12 Personal Finance Skills Everyone Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-money-on-child-care-this-summer">How to Save Money on Child Care This Summer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living activities free fun free hobbies hobbies learning resolutions skills Fri, 05 Feb 2016 16:00:05 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1649860 at http://www.wisebread.com Learn Something New With These 9 Cheap Apps http://www.wisebread.com/learn-something-new-with-these-9-cheap-apps <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/learn-something-new-with-these-9-cheap-apps" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000062778500_Large.jpg" alt="learning something new with a cheap educational app" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With so many new things in the world to learn and so little time in your hectic schedule to spare, the learning part should be easy and accessible. For those who don't have the patience to sit down with a book, and who also are extremely attached to their smartphones, apps are a great way to turn a potential distraction into a powerful and portable medium for learning.</p> <p>Here are nine cheap or free apps to help you learn something new.</p> <h2>1. Couch to 5K</h2> <p>Right now, many Americans are trying to keep their New Year's Resolutions. Among the top resolutions is to &quot;get fit&quot; and one of the most common ways to achieve that is to get off the couch and train for a 5K race.</p> <p>Recommended by Shape Magazine as the best app for new runners, Couch to 5K provides you a training schedule of three 30-minute sessions a week for nine weeks to achieve your goal of running your first 5K race. It costs $2.99 to download and it's available on <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/couch-to-5k-running-app-training/id448474423?mt=8">iTunes</a> and <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.active.aps.c25k">Google Play</a>.</p> <p>Ready for the next level? There are also <a href="http://www.activenetwork.com/mobile-apps/5k-to-10k-app">5K to 10K</a> and half-marathon (<a href="http://www.activenetwork.com/mobile-apps/13-1-half-marathon-app">13.One</a>) training apps. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-apps-that-pay-you-to-exercise?ref=seealso">5 Apps That Pay You to Exercise</a>)</p> <h2>2. Dictionary</h2> <p>Want to become a &quot;logophile&quot; or discover what that word even means? Then download the Dictionary.com mobile apps for free (available for <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dictionary.com-dictionary/id308750436?mt=8&amp;at=1l3vsk3&amp;ct=mobileappspage_iphonefree">iPhone</a>, <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dictionary.com-dictionary/id364740856?mt=8">iPad</a>, Apple Watch, <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dictionary&amp;hl=en">Android</a>, Android Wear, and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Dictionary-com-Dictionary-and-Thesaurus-Android/dp/B004GMT14Y">Amazon</a> devices). With over 100 million app downloads and 5.5 billion word searches per year, Dictionary.com is the world's leading digital English dictionary.</p> <p>Through its Word of the Day feature, you'll learn a new word every day, including its definition, pronunciation, origin, and example of use. This dictionary app also allows you to keep track of your favorite words so that you can bring them up when the time is right &mdash; and impress the pants off everyone you know with your massive vocabulary.</p> <h2>3. Duolingo</h2> <p>Speaking more than one language may enable you for higher pay in certain jobs and help you <a href="http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/journals/pspi/bilingual-minds.html">fight against Alzheimer's disease</a>. By gamifying the language learning process, Duolingo (available on <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/app/duolingo-learn-spanish-french/id570060128?mt=8">iTunes</a>, <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.duolingo">Google Play</a>, and <a href="https://www.microsoft.com/store/apps/duolingo-learn-languages-for-free/9wzdncrcv5xn">Windows Store</a>) makes your lessons fun and provides immediate gratification. Duolingo grants you points for completing tasks so you can see how you stack up against your friends.</p> <p>Chosen as 2013's App of the Year by Apple and available for free download, Duolingo is a top choice for learning Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Irish, Danish, and English.</p> <h2>4. Fooducate</h2> <p>With an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 from a total of 11,200 ratings, Fooducate is another useful app to keep your resolution for a healthier and fitter 2016. This app, available on <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fooducate/id398436747?mt=8">iTunes</a> and <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fooducate.nutritionapp&amp;referrer=utm_source%3Dfdct-redirect%26utm_campaign%3DFdct-Web-footer-button%26utm_medium%3Dna">Google Play</a>, grades food items from A down to D based on the item's nutrition facts panel and ingredient list.</p> <p>By scanning the UPC of many food items, you'll be able to spot information that may be hard to identify, including tricky trans fats, added sugars, and controversial food colorings. The rating isn't arbitrary. In 2012, the <a href="http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/news/2012/02/sg_healthy_app_challenge-winners.html">U.S. Surgeon General's Healthy App Challenge</a> awarded Fooducate first place in the category of nutrition and healthy eating.</p> <h2>5. Khan Academy</h2> <p>Use it or lose it. Spreadsheet software and modern calculators hinder many math skills, including performing long division, factoring a quadratic equation, finding the least common multiple, or solving a system of linear equations. While you may have thought that you would never have to perform these math operations ever again, you would run into them if you were to take a standardized test, such as the GMAT, GRE, or ASVAB.</p> <p>Without ads and subscription fees, the Khan Academy app, available on <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/khan-academy/id469863705?mt=8&amp;uo=4">iTunes</a> and <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.khanacademy.android&amp;hl=en">Google Play</a>, allows you to review those key math skills. You can also find plenty of free online classes on science, computer programming, history, art, economics, and other topics.</p> <h2>6. Mint</h2> <p>Available on <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mint-personal-finance/id300238550?mt=8">iTunes</a>, <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mint&amp;hl=en">Google Play</a>, and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Intuit-Mint-com-Personal-Finance/dp/B004T2P7MQ">Amazon</a>, the free Mint app helps you track all your financial accounts, cards, and investments in one place so you can improve your financial wellbeing. While you could try to keep track of all of your finances from statements, you could benefit greatly from Mint's visual dashboard. And since 65% of individuals are <a href="http://www.uab.edu/uasomume/fd2/visuals/page1.htm">visual learners</a>, the app's bar charts, pie charts, and colorful alerts allow you to spend smarter and save more.</p> <p>One of the best features of the app is the ability to create a detailed budget so you can keep track of how much money you have left for the month in specific categories, such as dining, clothing, and transportation.</p> <h2>7. Poems By Heart</h2> <p>Another way to keep your mind sharp is to improve your memory. The Poems By Heart app helps you memorize and recite poems from several genres, including the &quot;Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day&quot; sonnet by Shakespeare and &quot;Eldorado&quot; by Edgar Allan Poe.</p> <p>The app is only available for <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/poems-by-heart-from-penguin/id577789325?mt=8">iPhone and iPad</a> and comes with four free poems. You can buy additional poem packages that feature the works of iconic poets like Walt Whitman, W.B. Yeats, and James Weldon Johnson. Apple featured Poems by Heart as one of &quot;Apple's App Store Best of 2013&quot; because it's highly engaging (and addictive!) user design.</p> <h2>8. Photomath</h2> <p>One of the hardest things about solving mathematical problems is to understand all of the steps involved in the process. Even worse, it's hard enough trying to write down a complicated arithmetic operation or lengthy linear equation.</p> <p>The Photomath app allows you to snap a photo of a wide variety of mathematical expressions, including basic arithmetic, fractions, decimal numbers, linear equations and several functions, with the camera of your <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photomath/id919087726">iPhone</a> or <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.microblink.photomath">Android device</a> and show you a step-by-step answer. This is a very useful app for math students of all levels and parents of those young students willing to help out.</p> <h2>9. Quizlet</h2> <p>Flashcards are an excellent study tool because they allow for a self-directed personalized study experience that help us gauge our progress. Available on <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/quizlet-flashcards-study-tools/id546473125?mt=8">iTunes</a> and <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.quizlet.quizletandroid&amp;hl=en&amp;referrer=utm_source%3Dmobilepage">Google Play</a>, the Quizlet app allows you to build your own set of digital flashcards on any subject that you're trying to master. From learning new words in Spanish to memorizing kitchen recipes to preparing for a driving permit practice test, use Quizlet to unlock the learning power of flashcards in six study modes.</p> <p><em>What are other cheap or free apps to help you learn something? Share with us in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/learn-something-new-with-these-9-cheap-apps">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-didn-t-learn-in-college-but-you-should-have">10 Things You Didn’t Learn in College (but You Should Have)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-money-does-buy-happiness">9 Ways Money Does Buy Happiness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/college-resources">40+ College Resources for Parents and Students</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-get-student-loan-debt-forgiveness">8 Ways to Get Student Loan Debt Forgiveness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-get-a-legit-business-education-online">3 Ways to Get a Legit Business Education Online</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Lifestyle cheap apps education free apps iPhone learning new skills resolutions Wed, 03 Feb 2016 18:19:00 +0000 Damian Davila 1647754 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Habits Science Says Will Make You Smarter http://www.wisebread.com/5-habits-science-says-will-make-you-smarter <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-habits-science-says-will-make-you-smarter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000060996814.jpg" alt="Family creating habits science says will make them smarter" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>So, you want to be smarter? You're not alone. Most people have moments when they wish they knew more, remembered more, performed better, or could connect ideas faster than the people around them.</p> <p>We tend to believe that a person's level of intelligence is genetic, or at least that it is set early on. However, there are always things that we can do to help our brains work better. After all, that's a huge part of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-free-or-cheap-toys-that-will-make-your-kid-smarter">being smart</a>: having a brain that is able to function at the top of its game.</p> <h2>1. Eat Breakfast</h2> <p>Kids who eat breakfast <a href="http://www.ejbss.com/Data/Sites/1/mydata/ejbss-12-1117-breakfastandadolescentperformance.pdf">perform significantly better</a> in school. In fact, they do better than the non-breakfast eaters even when their breakfast isn't particularly healthy, although healthier breakfasts enhance performance even more.</p> <p>The brain needs nutrients to function. After a full night's sleep, even if you overate the night before, your brain needs food. When you skip your breakfast, you miss these nutrients. In addition, the study above also notes that most people don't just get these nutrients later in the day. For many of us, breakfast is our best chance at giving our brain all that it needs to work well.</p> <p>Lots and lots of people don't like breakfast or don't make the time for breakfast. If you're one of these, consider starting with something small and something you really, really enjoy eating. Work your way up to a full breakfast. And if you feel like you can't eat until a bit later in the day, try taking a smoothie with you to work.</p> <h2>2. Exercise</h2> <p>Exercise gives your brain what it needs to <a href="http://fit.webmd.com/teen/move/article/exercise-boosts-brain">grow new neurons</a> which help it store memories and make connections. Exercise helps us think more flexibly and helps office workers raise their productivity. If you can get up to 45 minutes to an hour a day, six days a week, you will put your brain in a good place for optimal functioning.</p> <p>Getting regular exercise is hard. You're tired. You don't have time. You can't afford a gym membership. Whatever your reasoning, though, it's worth overcoming it so that you can get these benefits that make you <em>smarter</em>.</p> <p>Start with something that is simple, like walking. Walk on breaks from work, even if it's just around your office. Or walk in the evenings, if the weather is nice. Take family and friends with you, or catch up on your favorite podcast while you walk. Soon, you will have a habit, and you will be able to notice your brain function improving.</p> <h2>3. Spend Time With Intelligent, Creative People</h2> <p><a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3004829/harvard-professor-finds-innovative-ideas-spread-flu-heres-how-catch-them">Ideas travel between people,</a> so the more central your position in a group of smart, thoughtful, and creative people, the more interesting news and information you'll be exposed to. A huge part of being smart is connecting ideas in new ways, and to do this you have to hear, see, and experience new and fascinating things.</p> <p>If you feel like your current group of friends isn't quite where you'd like them to be, don't push them away entirely. It may be that they, too, are not being exposed to new things. Instead, find some interesting people and invite them into your group. Think about the guy at work who always seems to be talking about the new book he just read, or the gal at the gym who seems to know everything about exercise science. Learn all you can from them, digest it, and see how it connects to what you already know.</p> <p>Make spending time in these kinds of relationships habitual, and you'll soon see the benefits. Your brain will stretch to hold the new ideas. Then new connections will form, and who knows! Maybe you'll be the one with the next innovative, brilliant thought.</p> <h2>4. Get an Extra Hour of Sleep</h2> <p>People who slept less did up to 40% worse on a cognitive test than people who slept more. Even <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24444634">an hour of sleep</a> made a significant difference in computerized mental agility tests. So if you want your brain to work well, you need to give it plenty of rest.</p> <p>Seven hours seems to be the magic number for most people. Get at least that much sleep, and you will have enough time in REM sleep for your brain to work well. Get less than that, and you may find that you don't remember things as well, haven't fully processed the previous day, and can't think straight.</p> <p>Getting more sleep is hard for most of us. Sometimes, evenings are the only time you get to relax. Or maybe you're a night owl who struggles to rest before the wee hours. Even if you can only tweak your sleep habits a little bit, it should have a positive effect on the way your brain works.</p> <h2>5. Learn How to Learn</h2> <p>If you did decently well in school, you probably assume that you know how to learn. However, there's almost always room for improvement. For instance, people who learn well tend to spend more time practicing what they are trying to learn than reading about it. They also commit to the long-term process, and find a way to track their efforts, their progress, and what they realize along the way.</p> <p>Part of being smarter involves acquiring new knowledge skills. When you can do this consistently and efficiently, you will find that your cognitive skills continually increase. Make learning well a habit, and you should feel confident that your brain can handle anything thrown its way.</p> <p><em>Do you have any practices that make you smarter? What do you do?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-habits-science-says-will-make-you-smarter">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-starting-or-jumpstarting-your-exercise-regimen">Tips For Starting (Or Jumpstarting) Your Exercise Regimen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-cheap-ways-to-lower-your-blood-sugar">13 Natural and Easy Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-naturally-reset-your-sleep-cycle-overnight">How to Naturally Reset Your Sleep Cycle in One Night</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-healthy-ways-to-have-ice-cream-for-breakfast">10 Healthy Ways to Have Ice Cream for Breakfast</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-fitness-gadgets-actually-worth-the-money">5 Fitness Gadgets Actually Worth the Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Health and Beauty being smarter brain power breakfast exercise learning sleep Fri, 31 Jul 2015 17:00:14 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1502008 at http://www.wisebread.com 14 Free or Cheap Toys That Will Make Your Kid Smarter http://www.wisebread.com/14-free-or-cheap-toys-that-will-make-your-kid-smarter <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/14-free-or-cheap-toys-that-will-make-your-kid-smarter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/child_playing_toys_000046742926.jpg" alt="Child playing with educational toys made at home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It may seem like you need to spend a fortune on educational toys for your kids these days. Heck, many stores have entire sections devoted to learning aids cleverly disguised as playthings. All that stuff is great, but you can beef up your child's smarts with some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-diy-crafts-that-will-save-you-money">awesome DIY projects</a>. You'll spend much less money making things at home, and frugality is a great lesson to teach children at any age.</p> <h2>1. Sensory Tables</h2> <p>Bring your child's preschool favorite to you own playroom with these <a href="http://www.ringaroundtherosies.net/2012/04/diy-sensory-tables.html">DIY sensory tables</a>. Construct a simple wooden base out of pallets and plop in a plastic bin. You can fill them with rice, dried beans, or whatever else you like. And if you're looking to do this project on a dime, skip the table and just place the plastic bin on a waist-high surface.</p> <h2>2. Alphabet Board</h2> <p>I love this <a href="http://nicandkate09.blogspot.com/2011/08/alphabet-board.html">alphabet board</a> project because you could take it in so many different directions. Just mount a metal oil pan on your wall to create a magnetic surface. The author cut up an alphabet poster and glued it to the pan. Then her child used magnetic letters to match. You could repeat with numbers, maps, or anything else you're looking to teach your child.</p> <h2>3. Felt Board</h2> <p>Here's a similar idea <a href="http://buggyandbuddy.com/make-your-own-felt-board-tutorial/">making a felt board</a> versus metal. Cut a piece of felt so it's a bit larger than a cork board. Then use an X-Acto knife to size it perfectly before spraying with adhesive and pressing onto the board. Once it has dried, you can use homemade felt cut-outs to explore a variety of subjects.</p> <h2>4. Emo Dolls</h2> <p>Teach your child about facial expressions, emotions, and even empathy with these <a href="http://www.danyabanya.com/diy-educational-toy-emo-dolls/">DIY emo dolls</a>. Making them couldn't be easier. Take two types of cardboard tubes that are different sizes (toilet paper and cling wrap, for example). Cut them to the same length. Then cut a circle (face) into the larger one. Draw different faces on the smaller one. Nest them together, and you're done!</p> <h2>5. Sight Word Rolls</h2> <p>Use a similar approach for these <a href="http://laughingkidslearn.com/2013/06/word-rolls.html/">sight word rolls</a>. Cut varying lengths of tubes in different diameters. On one tube, write the first part of a word. One the second, the rest of it. There are many different ways to form your words, and this author started with consonant blends and digraphs.</p> <h2>6. Sewn Letters</h2> <p>Those of you who sew will love this <a href="http://www.chicagonow.com/quilting-sewing-creating/2013/06/fabric-alphabet-toy-letters-tutorial-diy/">plush alphabet</a> project you can make using leftover scraps of fabric. Simply cut squares of fabric, sandwich in some batting, and then sew around a stencil guide. Cut out the letters using pinking shears so there's no fraying at the edges.</p> <h2>7. Sponge Letters</h2> <p>Not so crafty? Try cutting <a href="http://www.learning4kids.net/2011/08/16/alphabet-sponge-letters-bath-time-fun-2/">letters from clean sponges</a> instead. The advantage here is that you can take them into the bath. You could also use them as paint stamps. Here's a free <a href="http://www.learning4kids.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Sponge-Alphabet5.pdf">alphabet template</a> you can print off and use as a guide.</p> <h2>8. Inventor's Box</h2> <p>Older kids will go crazy for this <a href="http://www.ehow.com/ehow-mom/blog/build-stem-skills-at-home-make-an-inventors-box/">inventor's box</a>. Fill a plastic bin with old electronic items, like a flashlight, keyboard, clock, radio, or whatever else you can find at yard sales and thrift shops. Then let your child independently explore. The author suggested taking a flashlight apart and letting your kid put it back together.</p> <h2>9. Memory Game</h2> <p>This <a href="http://www.dandee-designs.com/2011/05/shapes-colors-memory-game.html">memory game</a> is something fun you could scale up or down for your child depending on age. Take wooden disks (you can find them at most craft stores) and cut out wool felt shapes in all different colors. Adhere the shapes to the wood and play.</p> <h2>10. Tide Pool</h2> <p>Create your own ecosystem with this <a href="http://buggyandbuddy.com/tide-pool-science-experiment-kids/">tide pool</a> project. You'll fill a metal pan with rocks, mini plastic marine animals, and sand. Then add water to the pan, noting which animals are covered by the water as it rises. Then slowly remove water and watch the tide in reverse.</p> <h2>11. Geoboard</h2> <p>Work on fine motor skills and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning with this <a href="http://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/diy-simple-geo-board-for-fine-motor-skills-fine-motor-fridays/">homemade geoboard</a>. Grab a slab of wood at a craft or home improvement store, then mark off a grid in pencil. Hammer nails into the corner of each marked square. Then give your child some colorful rubber bands to create shapes, letters, or whatever else.</p> <h2>12. Giant Puzzle</h2> <p>Rainy days call for creativity. This <a href="http://www.two-daloo.com/diy-giant-block-puzzle/">giant block puzzle</a> will come to your rescue and challenge your child's spatial and problem-solving skills. Take shaped blocks (or other toys) and trace a bunch on a large sheet of paper. Then give your kids the blocks and let them figure it out.</p> <h2>13. Handwriting Tray</h2> <p>If your little one is just starting to write, try this <a href="http://thismummaslife.com/2013/02/28/diy-salt-tray-and-alphabet-cards/">handwriting tray</a>. The author recycled wooden toy packaging for the tray. The letter cards are made of thick watercolor paper. Once you've finished writing all the letters, fill the tray with salt or sand and let your child write using his or her finger or a q-tip.</p> <h2>14. Color Classifier</h2> <p>Work on advanced color recognition with this <a href="http://www.walkingbytheway.com/blog/shades-of-color/">shades of color</a> activity. Pick up a variety of paint chip cards at your local hardware store, cut them up, and store in a zip bag. Create a quick chart on a plain piece of paper and let you child try putting the chips in order based on gradation.</p> <p><em>Do you have a great project to share? Leave a note in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-free-or-cheap-toys-that-will-make-your-kid-smarter">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-awesomely-fun-toys-you-can-diy">15 Awesomely Fun Toys You Can DIY</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-more-cheap-and-easy-diy-toys-kids-will-love">15 More Cheap and Easy DIY Toys Kids Will Love</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-fun-money-apps-for-kids">10 Fun Money Apps for Kids</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-new-toys-to-teach-kids-about-money">How to Use New Toys to Teach Kids About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-cheap-fun-things-to-do-with-kids-this-weekend">20 Cheap Fun Things to Do With Kids This Weekend</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Family educational kids learning playing toys Thu, 30 Jul 2015 15:00:12 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1502076 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Best Free Financial Learning Tools http://www.wisebread.com/9-best-free-financial-learning-tools <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-best-free-financial-learning-tools" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_tablet_travel_000063831043.jpg" alt="Woman using free financial tool to manage her money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Personal finance can be tricky. From mortgages to credit cards, investing and auto loans, there's a lot to get your brain around. The good news is that you don't need to drop hundreds of dollars to learn the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-financial-decisions-you-cant-keep-putting-off">basics of money management</a>. There are plenty of free resources and tools to help you wade through these complicated waters. Here are nine of the best.</p> <h2>1. Your Brokerage's Website</h2> <p>Many of the top discount brokerage firms, including Fidelity, Charles Schwab, and TD Ameritrade, have robust websites that not only offer you the ability to trade, but also to learn about investing and other financial matters. Some even have sections of their websites labeled as &quot;education centers.&quot; There are news and opinion articles, videos and podcasts, plus tutorials, free webinars, and online panel discussions. Granted, these websites will often tout their own investment products, but most of the advice is sound and useful for those getting started with investing.</p> <h2>2. Feed the Pig</h2> <p><a href="http://www.feedthepig.org/">Feed the Pig</a> is presented by the American Institute of CPAs and has a number of resources for those looking for information on saving, budgeting, and retirement planning. There are some helpful budgeting calculators, and step-by-step guides on things like credit cards, mortgages, and student loans. The AICPA says the site is geared toward people aged 24 to 35, and that's evidenced by the lighthearted presentation.</p> <h2>3. CashCourse</h2> <p>Offered by the National Endowment for Financial Education, <a href="http://www.cashcourse.org/">CashCourse</a> has a series of financial tools geared toward young people. There are nearly 900 colleges that have signed up to give their students free access to workshops, and the information is noncommercial and unbiased.</p> <h2>4. Bloomberg 401(k) Calculator</h2> <p>There are many financial calculators out there, but I am partial to this robust <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/personal-finance/calculators/401k/">401(k) calculator from Bloomberg</a>, which allows you to project 401(k) savings by entering a number of fields including projected salary increases, timeline, and expected investment returns. It also allows you to view a chart showing how an employer match will impact your account balance.</p> <h2>5. Kiplinger Tax Map</h2> <p>Want to see how tax-friendly your state is? This handy <a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/tool/taxes/T055-S001-kiplinger-tax-map/">tax map from Kiplinger</a> offers ratings for each state, plus a detailed state-by-state guide on everything from income to property taxes. There's also similar map geared toward retirees.</p> <h2>6. Better Money Habits</h2> <p><a href="https://www.bettermoneyhabits.com/index.html">Better Money Habits</a> formed as a partnership between Bank of America and Khan Academy. There are tools on budgeting, credit, and home buying. As you use the site, you can obtain points for certain &quot;achievements,&quot; and earn virtual badges.</p> <h2>7. The Options Institute</h2> <p>From the Chicago Board Options Exchange, <a href="http://www.cboe.com/learncenter/options-trading-institute.aspx">The Options Institute</a> allows you to register for free online tutorials on how to use options to expand your investment opportunities. It's designed for more experienced investors, but newcomers can learn a lot as well. Most of the institute's offerings are free, though there are some seminars and classes that come at a cost.</p> <h2>8. MyMoney.gov</h2> <p>The U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Literacy and Education Commission operates <a href="http://www.mymoney.gov/Pages/default.aspx">MyMoney.gov</a>, featuring a series of tools centered on five principles: earn, save and invest, protect, spend, and borrow. There are a variety of different financial calculators, some budgeting worksheets, and checklists.</p> <h2>9. Thrive and Shine</h2> <p>This app for iPhone and Android devices is a game in which players create an avatar and then make financial decisions as they move from their parents' basement to living independently. <a href="http://www.mindblownlabs.com/product/">Thrive and Shine</a> is geared toward teens and teaches budgeting, saving, and debt management.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-best-free-financial-learning-tools">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-get-a-promotion">8 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Get a Promotion</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-12-month-get-richer-plan">The 12-Month Get-Richer Plan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-financial-moves-you-will-always-regret">9 Financial Moves You Will Always Regret</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-obstacles-that-are-especially-tough-for-women">5 Financial Obstacles That Are Especially Tough for Women</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-retirement-latte">The Retirement Latte</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance budgeting investing learning retirement saving stocks Tue, 19 May 2015 11:00:07 +0000 Tim Lemke 1423263 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Learn These Things to Get Better at Life http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-learn-these-things-to-get-better-at-life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-learn-these-things-to-get-better-at-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy-woman-relaxing-Dollarphotoclub_70326661.jpg" alt="happy woman relaxing" title="happy woman relaxing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on things to learn that'll make you better at life, ways to optimize your space, and steps you can take right now to build confidence.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://christianpf.com/better-game-of-life/">12 Things You Can Learn Today That Will Make You Better at the Game of Life</a> &mdash; Learn to travel light in life; accumulating stuff tends to weigh us down. [Christian PF]</p> <p><a href="http://www.supermoney.com/2014/12/optimize-space/">100 Ways to Instantly Make Everything Better by Optimizing Space Around You</a> &mdash; Magazine holders can store more than magazines. Use them for cables, cans of food, and other kitchen odds and ends. [SuperMoney!]</p> <p><a href="http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/3-steps-can-take-right-now-build-confidence/">3 Steps You Can Take Right Now to Build Confidence</a> &mdash; Get out of your comfort zone. Do something that you haven't done before or something that will make a difference in your life. [Pick The Brain]</p> <p><a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/How-Balance-Social-Life-Work-35969796">How to Balance Your Busy Social Life and Still Make It Through the Workday</a> &mdash; Need a brain boost? Take a cinnamon-flavored mint or gum to encourage concentration. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.moneyunder30.com/so-you-missed-black-friday-and-cyber-monday-heres-how-you-can-still-score-deals-on-holiday-gifts">So You Missed Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Here's How You Can Still Score Deals on Holiday Gifts</a> &mdash; Check out sites like Groupon or Living Social for deals on experience-oriented gifts. [Money Under 30]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://savingdollarsandsense.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-giving-gift-cards/">Everything You Need to Know About Giving Gift Cards</a> &mdash; Put together a gift basket to go with your gift card and make it even more personal. [Saving Dollars &amp; Sense]</p> <p><a href="http://www.cheapism.com/blog/3286/budget-red-white-wine">10 Wines Under $10 for Holiday Parties</a> &mdash; A glut of California wines means lower prices without skimping on quality. Try the J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay 2012 for about $10. [Cheapism]</p> <p><a href="http://www.moneycrush.com/10-things-to-do-before-selling-your-home/">10 Essential Things to Do Before Selling Your Home</a> &mdash; Repaint the interior of your house if the walls look dingy or they are unusually bright colors. [Money Crush]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/is-my-child-ready-for-preschool">Is My Child Ready for Preschool?</a> &mdash; Before enrolling, take your child to the preschool so you can see her reaction and how she interacts with the children and teachers. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="http://www.northerncheapskate.com/8-ideas-for-frugal-winter-fun/">8 Ideas for Frugal Winter Fun</a> &mdash; Join your kids at the Wii or Xbox for a family gaming night! [Northern Cheapskate]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-learn-these-things-to-get-better-at-life">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-immaturity-can-make-you-happier-and-more-successful">7 Ways Immaturity Can Make You Happier and More Successful</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-learn-from-your-mistakes">How to Learn From Your Mistakes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-learn-something-new-every-day">11 Ways to Learn Something New Every Day</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/great-ways-to-invest-in-yourself">Great Ways to Invest in Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-didn-t-learn-in-college-but-you-should-have">10 Things You Didn’t Learn in College (but You Should Have)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development best money tips learning Thu, 11 Dec 2014 20:00:09 +0000 Amy Lu 1266971 at http://www.wisebread.com People Who Love Expanding Their Minds Do These 13 Things — Do You? http://www.wisebread.com/people-who-love-expanding-their-minds-do-these-13-things-do-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/people-who-love-expanding-their-minds-do-these-13-things-do-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/puzzle-cube-86511536-small.jpg" alt="puzzle cube" title="puzzle cube" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are those out there who refuse to let their brain get into a rut. The intellectually stimulated, the cranially curious, the people who love expanding their minds. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-easy-ways-to-improve-your-brain?ref=seealso">13 Easy Ways to Improve Your Brain</a>)</p> <p>Are you one of them? If so, you just may engage in one or more of these 13 pursuits on a daily basis.</p> <h2>1. Doing Puzzles</h2> <p>Whatever their favorite sort of puzzle, whether it's a jigsaw puzzle, Sudoku, a crossword, or a logic game, people who love expanding their minds know that <a href="http://www.daisybrains.com/blog/brain-teasers/more-please-why-our-brains-cant-seem-to-get-enough-of-brain-teasers-and-logic-puzzles/">it's good for your brain</a>. You'll learn to concentrate better, have overall higher brain activity, remember better, and have improved sleep. Puzzles can also be quite a lot of fun, so solving them won't feel like work. Instead, you'll be helping your mind and having fun at the same time.</p> <h2>2. Writing by Hand</h2> <p>If you value expanding your mind, chances are you value having a lot of creative ideas and being able to communicate them to others. As it turns out, people who write out their thoughts and ideas on an actual piece of paper, not a computer screen, <a href="http://www.rd.com/advice/parenting/why-handwriting-makes-you-smarter/">have more active minds and express more ideas</a> than people who only type. Try writing by hand for a few minutes every day, and see what changes you notice.</p> <h2>3. Learning Math</h2> <p>Math may not be your favorite, but people who want to expand their minds know that if you want your brain to fluidly process letters and numbers and to have greater facility in your first language and others, you should <a href="http://healthland.time.com/2013/04/23/your-brain-on-math/">spend some time studying math</a>. It turns out that the areas of your brain that understand mathematical concepts and process numbers are related to the areas that do these other things, too. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-useful-genius-math-tricks-that-are-actually-easy?ref=seealso">11 Genius Math Tricks That Are Actually Easy</a>)</p> <h2>4. Exercising</h2> <p>Exercise doesn't just make us happier, it makes our brains work better. People who love expanding their minds know that they are better at <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/belle-beth-cooper/10-surprising-things-that-benefit-our-brains_b_4275770.html">focusing, solving problems, and even reasoning after they have exercised</a>. While it can take a lot of energy to get off the couch and out the door, even a quick walk boosts the brain's overall performance.</p> <h2>5. Studying a New Language</h2> <p>Learning a new language literally <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121008082953.htm">makes your brain grow</a>. Sure, language learning can be hard work. But it's so good for your brain, and it helps your mind learn to make new connections, too, so fans of expanding the mind will put in the effort.</p> <p>When your brain makes new connections you will become more creative, and you'll be able to communicate with a greater portion of the world. You can even study online, with <a href="https://www.duolingo.com/">Duolingo</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-can-learn-a-new-language-just-use-one-of-these-3-apps">other resources</a>. There's not much more fun than taking a trip to a place where you know the language because you've studied hard. Maybe you can set a vacation as a goal after all your study!</p> <h2>6. Reading Novels</h2> <p>Reading a novel seems to raise the connectivity in your brain and cause other positive neurological changes <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/brain-function-boosted-for-days-after-reading-a-novel-9028302.html">for up to five days after you finish</a> your book. Anyone who loves expanding their mind could tell you that if you'd like your brain to work smoother and more efficiently, pick up your favorite page-turner. You don't have to read a classic work or anything like that. In fact, it seems like the important factor is that the book is written well enough that you feel you're in the main character's place.</p> <h2>7. Practicing Meditation</h2> <p>Meditation can help <a href="http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12793/how-meditation-changes-your-brain-a-neuroscientist-explains.html">enhance your brain function</a> in areas that tie to learning, memory, taking different perspectives, regulating your emotions, and more. People who want to expand their minds know that, if you want your mind to work better, it's worthwhile to learn meditation.</p> <p>It's easy to be intimidated by the prospect of meditating. We tend to think that it is something that gurus do, or only enlightened people. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be hard at all. There are many <a href="http://tinybuddha.com/blog/8-ways-to-make-meditation-easy-and-fun/">easy ways to incorporate meditation</a> into your busy daily life.</p> <h2>8. Playing Board Games</h2> <p>People who grow their minds often play board games. <a href="http://examinedexistence.com/can-playing-games-make-you-smarter/">Different games have different benefits</a>, but overall you can improve your linguistic intelligence, improve your math and reasoning skills, improve how you negotiate and work with people, and improve your critical thinking. Try a lot of different games, and you could greatly improve your brain's capacity to work on a lot of different levels.</p> <h2>9. Listening to Music</h2> <p>Listening to music has <a href="http://greatist.com/happiness/unexpected-health-benefits-music">all sorts of benefits</a>, but notable among these is that it improves cognitive functioning, eases stress, and helps you perform better in difficult situations. And people who want better functioning brains know that it's easy, too &mdash; just play music from your phone in the car or carry headphones if you commute by transit.</p> <p>Expand your mind even more by listening to music that isn't familiar to you. Do this with someone who loves the music and understands it, so you can ask questions about what you're hearing and have them help you understand it. This will help you in taking on new and different perspectives, too.</p> <h2>10. Reading Poetry</h2> <p>Poetry can be intimidating. It only takes one bad memory from high school English class to put you off it for a long, long time. However, people who want better brains make the effort anyway, because <a href="http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/11/the-benefits-of-poetry-for-pro/">reading poems expands your mind</a> in some interesting and important ways. To understand most poems, you have to be able to look at things as both simple and complex. It also enhances the parts of your brain that think empathically, and help you become more creative, because it teaches you how to make connections between seemingly unrelated things.</p> <h2>11. Overcoming Fears</h2> <p>When you're afraid of something, you shut yourself off to that thing and anything that might lead to it or spring from it. For instance, if you're afraid of flying, it's easy to become shut off from travel and everything you can learn by doing that. You never get to experience new cultures, new foods, or the different perspectives that people in other cultures have. When you overcome your fears, you open yourself not only to the thing you're afraid of, but to everything that comes with that, too.</p> <p>Overcoming fears can be hard work, especially if they are deeply entrenched, but people who love expanding their minds love the benefits they reap when they make the effort. It will help you to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-techniques-that-can-help-you-conquer-any-fear">identify what you're afraid of</a> and where that fear comes from. However, you may need to work with a therapist to overcome particularly difficult fears.</p> <h2>12. Mind Mapping&hellip; Anything</h2> <p>When you make a mind map, you're giving your mind free range, at least within certain parameters. A mind map is basically a way of organizing information visually. You put your main idea in the center, then draw lines to show how it connects to other ideas. This can be as complicated of as simple as it needs to be to help you think.</p> <p>It can also help you see the connections between different ideas, and possibly between things that you might never have connected otherwise. Proponents of mind mapping for brain expansion say that <a href="http://www.edudemic.com/benefits-of-mind-mapping/">it helps them</a> understand their problems and solutions, organize their thoughts, make these new connections, and communicate with other people.</p> <h2>13. Getting Some Sleep</h2> <p>People who love expanding their minds know that getting plenty of sleep cannot possibly be overrated. They may not always want to go to bed on time, but they know one simple fact: when you sleep, <a href="http://www.helpguide.org/life/improving_memory.htm">your mind works better</a>. You learn better and recall what you've learned faster and easier. In fact, you may not be able to expand your mind in the other ways mentioned on this list if you're not getting enough sleep.</p> <p>While <a href="http://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need">there's not a magic number</a> of hours of sleep that will work for everyone, it's good to aim for 7-9 hours every night. Use some trial and error and commit to figuring out what works for you, and your brain will be better off.</p> <p><em>How do you expand your mind? How do you fit it into your busy schedule?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/people-who-love-expanding-their-minds-do-these-13-things-do-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-can-learn-a-new-language-just-use-one-of-these-3-apps">You CAN Learn a New Language — Just Use One of These 3 Apps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-ways-to-feel-better-fast">25 Ways to Feel Better Fast</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-powerful-brain-hacks-you-can-do-in-under-2-minutes">8 Powerful Brain Hacks You Can Do in Under 2 Minutes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-say-no-to-friends-and-family">5 Ways to Say &quot;No&quot; to Friends and Family</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-immaturity-can-make-you-happier-and-more-successful">7 Ways Immaturity Can Make You Happier and More Successful</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips Personal Development brains intelligence learning smarts Mon, 13 Oct 2014 11:00:07 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1231186 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Ways Immaturity Can Make You Happier and More Successful http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-immaturity-can-make-you-happier-and-more-successful <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-immaturity-can-make-you-happier-and-more-successful" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/father-son-playing-103577116-small.jpg" alt="father son playing" title="father son playing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="153" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Imagine what it would be like if life was a grand adventure and you were an intrepid explorer. For children, this is life every day. By their very nature, kids approach the world with genuine curiosity and are able to delight in the possibilities of what's waiting just over the horizon. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-be-a-more-positive-person?ref=seealso">How to Be a More Positive Person</a>)</p> <p>Sometimes, though, the older we get, the easier it becomes to lose some of that untamed spirit. The horizon can seems further and further away. If it's time for you to break free of the monotony of adulthood and rekindle some of the magic of youth, start with these essential lessons from childhood.</p> <h2>Embrace Endless, Wild Optimism</h2> <p>Children see only the possibilities, not the probabilities. Kids daydream about the most fantastic ways the impossible might come true. Their imaginations joyfully pursue the next good idea even before they know what to do with it. Adults can take lesson from this: Learn to stop dwelling on the reasons something can't happen. Instead, change your focus and explore the possibilities of what <em>can</em> happen.</p> <h2>Cultivate Curiosity</h2> <p>It's easy for adults to lose patience with a youngster's endless line of questioning. But instead of being annoyed, try emulating that strategy and staying curious yourself.</p> <p>Eleanor Roosevelt said, &quot;I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.&quot; I wholeheartedly agree. Being more curious means opening up to the possibility that there's more to life than meets the eye.</p> <p>Cultivate curiosity by learning a new skill, traveling, or getting to know people on a deeper level by asking more questions &mdash; it can only expand your world.</p> <h2>Get Creative</h2> <p>Children don't care if they color between the lines or make the sky plaid and the grass pink. They use arts and crafts as a ready outlet for their wild creative impulses. You don't have to be a trained artist to doodle on paper or paint with your fingers. Get the whole family involved in simple <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/three-kids-diy-projects-in-your-pantry">at-home DIY craft projects</a>. And if you feel like you need an art lesson, ask your children to <a href="http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2014/02/easy-finger-paint-recipe.html">mix up some finger paint</a> with you and then show you how it's done!</p> <h2>Be Fearless</h2> <p>Have you ever noticed that kids are willing to try out their ideas without hesitation (even if it results in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich crammed into a place it clearly doesn't belong)?</p> <p>Adults tend to travel in less fanciful circles because we're less willing to risk failure. Fortunately, most grown-ups also have better planning skills than children. We can prepare for risk-taking in ways that reduce the possibility of unpleasant (or sticky) outcomes. So, consider new ways to step out of your comfort zone and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-things-that-scare-you">do the things that scare you</a>. Put your adult planning skills to good use and start taking some risks on the things that matter to you most.</p> <h2>Play With Abandon</h2> <p>For kids, fun is still synonymous with fitness. They don't bother to count reps when they're engaged in endless rounds of kickball. They don't need to stare at the clock on an exercise bike when their real bike takes them to faraway places. They don't need the gym because every day is a calorie-burning, strength-building, circuit training challenge! Kids know what fitness experts having been trying to tell adults for years. The best way to get in shape is to make physical activity a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-ways-to-make-exercise-more-fun">fun part</a> of your everyday experience.</p> <h2>Say What You Mean</h2> <p>Kids really do say the darnedest things, don't they? That's because they're telling us what they really think. Adults, on the other hand, have well-crafted filters and we feel virtuous for &quot;holding our tongue.&quot;</p> <p>Sometimes having a filter can help diffuse a situation, but at other times, filters holds us back from having conversations that really count. Wouldn't it be great to tell your significant other just how much you love and appreciate them? Or set some more reasonable limits on what is expected of you at work? One of the most empowering lessons we adults can learn is the art of gracefully saying what we mean.</p> <h2>Laugh &mdash; and Cry &mdash; Out Loud</h2> <p>Children proudly wear their hearts on their sleeves. When something strikes them as funny, they light up the room with their laughter. If things get too monotonous, they'll spice things up with their own brand of slapstick. And if they're hurting, kids don't hesitate to ask for a kiss to make it better. But somewhere on the winding road from childhood to adulthood, we stop sharing our feelings and put on thick masks to hide how really feel. Adults can benefit from shedding those masks when the occasion calls for it and being willing to share more laughter, as well as tears.</p> <p>Every lesson adults can learn from kids boils down to this: Let go of some of your fear. Kids don't have the same quality or quantity of fear that adults do &mdash; and that intrepid nature keeps them learning, growing, and discovering something new every day. As adults, if you want to be healthier, happier, and have better relationships, all you really have to fear is fear itself. So go ahead, channel that bold little explorer you used to be, the one who looked under rocks, played with worms, climbed trees, wore cowboy boots with sweatpants, and imagined new worlds.</p> <p><em>What lessons have you learned or relearned from the children in your life? What's the most important childhood quality you've been able to preserve in yourself or own kids?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-immaturity-can-make-you-happier-and-more-successful">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-basic-manners-you-must-teach-your-kids">10 Basic Manners You Must Teach Your Kids</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-ways-to-be-a-better-person-today">25 Ways to Be a Better Person Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-bad-money-habits-youre-teaching-your-kids">4 Bad Money Habits You&#039;re Teaching Your Kids</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-kids-eat-free-restaurants">Best Kids Eat Free Restaurants</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kill-boredom-with-these-34-fun-and-productive-projects">Kill Boredom With These 34 Fun and Productive Projects</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Family Personal Development children kid lessons learning self improvement Mon, 23 Jun 2014 11:00:04 +0000 Kentin Waits 1145814 at http://www.wisebread.com You CAN Learn a New Language — Just Use One of These 3 Apps http://www.wisebread.com/you-can-learn-a-new-language-just-use-one-of-these-3-apps <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/you-can-learn-a-new-language-just-use-one-of-these-3-apps" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/languages-186007356.jpg" alt="languages" title="languages" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Learning a new language used to mean taking years of classes in high school. When you graduated, you knew enough Spanish, French, or German to buy a sandwich, find a bathroom, or ask if anyone speaks English &mdash; should you travel to another country. Learning a new language outside of school meant buying expensive CD sets that you listen to while you were driving or sitting around your home. You could go at your own pace but didn't have anyone to converse with or practice your new skills. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-learn-a-language?ref=seealso">5 Ways to Learn a Language</a>)</p> <p>Thanks to the growth in technology and the development of language learning apps, you can acquire new language skills in a short amount of time and from the comfort of anywhere. Great apps can range from free to a small monthly fee to the purchase of a $25 app. The best apps offer a range of features for various learning preferences. Here are three great ones to consider.</p> <h2>Duolingo</h2> <p><a href="http://www.duolingo.com">Duolingo</a> is a free app available for IOS and Android devices. It is an easy-to-use program that will leave you feeling successful after the first lesson and has been highly regarded as one of the best language learning models available. One independent research study found that Duolingo works as well as one semester of college level language classes in just 34 hours of time on the app. Imagine spending one hour a day for one month working on learning a language and acquiring the same skills you would have had you paid thousands of dollars and many weeks attending a university course! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/learning-without-the-high-cost-of-higher-education?ref=seealso">Learning Without the High Cost of Higher Ed</a>)</p> <p>Duolingo works by asking its language learners to translate real sentences that have been uploaded to their software. Users can vote on whether translations are correct. Once a document is fully translated, the one who uploaded it pays Duolingo. This keeps it free for the language learner.</p> <p>Lessons are broken up into small chunks which offer repeated practice of the same five or six words in isolation, in phrases, and in complete sentences. It pairs audio and text to teach you the phrases and then uses your microphone to verify your pronunciation. There are a number of languages available to learn but not as many as other apps. (Available at this time are Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese.) The app has a simple layout and is easy to navigate. (A friend's child was learning Spanish within seconds of loading the app onto a phone, making it worth a download by everyone.)</p> <h2>Memrise</h2> <p>Another free app that is available on both IOS and Android devices is <a href="http://www.memrise.com">Memrise</a>. This app allows users to learn all of the languages that Duolingo does plus Russian, Japanese, Arabic, and many more. (There is a premium feature in the works that may change what is free and what is not in the future.)</p> <p>Memrise provides a combination of text, audio, and pictures to help you learn words and phrases. It offers the learner repeated exposure with the same phrase, which may or may not feel repetitive to a user. There is an option to listen to a phrase as many times as you need to hear and practice pronouncing it.</p> <p>One unique feature of Memrise is that it doesn't focus solely on language learning. You can use the lessons to learn about classical works of art, geography, science, or entertainment. Using the science behind how the brain learns, Memrise offers short, easy-to-complete lessons, repeated practice, and regular review to ensure that you have learned the information for good. It should definitely be used if you are looking to acquire a new language or learn something new about the world. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-learn-something-new-every-day?ref=seealso">Learn Something New Every Day</a>)</p> <h2>Anki</h2> <p><a href="http://ankisrs.net/index.html">Anki</a> is a free desktop program that you can download to your computer. It uses a flashcard model to help you remember languages and other information. Anki has developed software that incorporates active recall testing (asking you questions just after you learned the information rather than waiting a period of time to ask) and spaced repetition (spreading out review of the information over time). The combination of the two means you are answering questions about the information you just learned and then answering questions on that same answer over time. For example, you may be reviewing the same information every day for three days. If you get it right every time, then you will start reviewing it every week. As you continue to answer correctly, the review questions are spaced out further and further apart.</p> <p>Anki takes time to master. You are not going to be diving into lessons immediately upon download. However, there is a large community that is developing and sharing flashcards for you to use. If you are trying to learn a common language, you may be able to use a &quot;deck&quot; (what Anki calls a set of flashcards) that someone else has already developed. If you are trying to learn something rare, you may have to create your own deck, which can take a lot of time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-self-improvement-apps-to-make-you-smarter-stronger-and-happier?ref=seealso">10 Great Self-Improvement Apps</a>)</p> <p>Anki is available for use with Android devices for free, but the IOS app is $24.99. Many users find this a small price to pay for mastering a language.</p> <h2>Other Options</h2> <p>If these three apps do not meet your needs, check out <a href="http://www.lingq.com/">LingQ</a> and <a href="http://www.busuu.com/enc/">Busuu</a>. Both apps have free lessons available but require a purchase (or monthly fee) to progress beyond that. They are worth checking out if you are serious about learning a new language and don't mind investing money in the process.</p> <p>Whether you are hoping to brush up on what you learned in high school, looking to travel in the future, or need to master a new language, any of the apps mentioned here will bring you closer to your goal.</p> <p><em>Have you tried a master a new language? What worked for you?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-can-learn-a-new-language-just-use-one-of-these-3-apps">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/people-who-love-expanding-their-minds-do-these-13-things-do-you">People Who Love Expanding Their Minds Do These 13 Things — Do You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-apps-that-pay-you-to-exercise">5 Apps That Pay You To Exercise</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-self-improvement-apps-to-make-you-smarter-stronger-and-happier">10 Self-Improvement Apps to Make You Smarter, Stronger, and Happier</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-ways-to-feel-better-fast">25 Ways to Feel Better Fast</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-say-no-to-friends-and-family">5 Ways to Say &quot;No&quot; to Friends and Family</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips Personal Development apps language learn a language learning smartphone apps Wed, 23 Apr 2014 08:48:24 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1136592 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Ways to Learn Something New Every Day http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-learn-something-new-every-day <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-ways-to-learn-something-new-every-day" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/thinking-181605358.jpg" alt="thinking" title="thinking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A while back, I wrote about the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-improve-your-memory-and-even-get-a-little-smarter">benefits of improving your memory</a>, and I did so for a very specific reason: My mother is in the beginning stages of dementia and I've been looking for ways to slow it down and potentially even reverse its effects.</p> <p>What I found is that in addition to nutrition, exercise, and practiced recall, learning new things is a key component to combating this disease. And in the process of ensuring my mom had plenty of opportunities to expand her horizons, I discovered something else. Learning new things had a notable and positive effect on me as well.</p> <p>For starters, I felt smarter, and not just in the sense that I knew something I hadn't known before. I realized I was starting to see things more clearly. I was able to connect the dots faster and process and evaluate information more efficiently. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-natural-and-effective-ways-to-change-your-brain-chemistry-and-be-happier?ref=seealso">Ways to Change Your Brain Chemistry and Be Happier</a>)</p> <p>I also noticed that my recall was better, as well as my focus. I didn't have to wait for things to &quot;come back to me&quot; as I had done so often in the past and that aggravating little habit of walking into a room and forgetting why I was there seemed to be occurring less and less.</p> <p>So, with the benefits of broadening your mental horizons covered, let's talk about some of the many ways you can incorporate learning into your day-to-day life.</p> <h2>1. Go Back to School</h2> <p>Obviously, enrolling in school would ensure a steady stream of new things to learn and truth be told, getting a degree is most definitely on my to-do list. But if, like me, money and time don't allow that commitment right now, there are other ways to tackle a new subject. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-save-on-college-tuition?ref=seealso">Ways to Save on Tuition</a>)</p> <p>Sites like <a href="http://coursera.org">Coursera</a> and <a href="http://edx.org">EdX</a> offer classes on everything from math and foreign languages to cryptography, quantum physics, and the art of arguing. Classes are free &mdash; read that again, FREE &mdash; and completely online, and they're taught by professors from some of the top universities around the world. It is the future of education.</p> <p>And for those with an interest specifically in programming, there's <a href="http://www.codecademy.com/">CodeAcademy</a>. Here, you can learn everything from basic HTML and CSS to PHP, Ruby, and lots more. Like Coursera and EdX, it's completely free and completely online. It's also self-paced, so you can easily integrate it into your busy schedule.</p> <h2>2. TED Talks</h2> <p>If you haven't watched a <a href="https://www.ted.com/talks">TED Talk</a> yet, you don't know what you're missing. These live seminars have been recorded for your convenience, but they go much deeper than what you might expect a seminar to do. TED Talks cover topics that everyone is thinking about, but often have trouble discussing. These are the conversations that make you say &quot;Hmmm&quot; and create new perspectives and ideas in the process.</p> <p>TED Talks cover the gamut from global issues to technology to entertainment and you can even sort by whether you want to be amazed, inspired or have your funny bone tickled. And yes, they're free as well. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-free-ways-to-learn-something-new?ref=seealso">Free Ways to Learn Something New</a>)</p> <h2>3. The History Channel</h2> <p>I don't know about you, but I'm hooked on the History Channel &mdash; more specifically H2 &mdash; and for multiple reasons. I can learn about ancient ruins and mysterious landmarks in &quot;America Unearthed,&quot; get a taste of quantum physics in &quot;The Universe,&quot; and discover why I think the way I think in &quot;Your Bleeped Up Brain.&quot;</p> <p>H2 offers a variety of educational shows that explore everything from secret societies to possible alien visitations to how salt helped shape our history and cultivate society. If you've ever wished you knew more about obscure or unusual topics, this is the channel for you.</p> <h2>4. Learn a Language</h2> <p>Imagine being able to talk to anyone. Imagine speaking the language no matter where you are. That's a possibility when you <a href="http://duolingo.com">Duolingo</a>.</p> <p>Now, I know I've written about this nifty little tool before, but it seems appropriate to sing its praises again here. Duolingo is free and offers both a web-based version as well as a handy app for your smartphone.</p> <p>That means that learning Spanish, French, Italian, German, or even Portuguese is well within your grasp. And because the platform has you writing, speaking, and reading the language you're learning, you'll retain more in a shorter amount of time.</p> <p><em>C'est bête comme chou. </em></p> <h2>5. Read</h2> <p>I'm an avid reader, and I still love that feeling I get when the light bulb goes off and something I've read sparks new understanding. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/free-books-little-libraries-that-build-community-and-save-you-money?ref=seealso">Build Community and Save Money With Books</a>)</p> <p>Reading opens doors that were previously closed. It introduces you to new places, new ideas, and new topics that you may not have previously known much about. Reading can take you to a far away, make-believe land or immerse you in a steamy romance, but it can also enlighten, empower, and educate.</p> <p>Start with some of the classics &mdash; <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0553213113/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0553213113&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">Moby Dick</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1416548947/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1416548947&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">Gone With the Wind</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0486406512/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0486406512&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">A Tale of Two Cities</a> &mdash; or visit your local library and see what's on the New Releases shelf. If you have an Amazon account, start paying attention to their &quot;Recommended For You Section&quot; because they'll help you find new books to read based on previous purchases and searches.</p> <p>If carting around books isn't your style, then consider reading in digital format. We're all familiar with <a href="https://kindle.amazon.com/">Kindle</a>, but there are other ways to get your books online. <a href="http://www.gutenberg.org/">Project Gutenberg</a> boasts tens of thousands of ebooks, all from legitimate publishers that are now in the public domain, available for download or online perusal.</p> <p><a href="https://dailylit.com/">DailyLit</a> on the other hand, will send books to you in installments, allowing you to read in short, pre-scheduled segments.</p> <h2>6. Do Your Own Repairs</h2> <p>There is a certain sense of pride and accomplishment when you discover you can handle something on your own, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to tackle all those little repairs and restores around your house. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-plumbing-repairs-that-dont-require-a-plumber?ref=seealso">10 Plumbing Repairs You Can Do Yourself</a>)</p> <p>Most recently, for example, I replaced the washers inside my kitchen faucet. I turned it on one morning and discovered a leak, which left me with two choices: I could fix it myself or wait for hubby to come home.</p> <p>Thinking &quot;how hard could it be?&quot; I went with option #1, and you'd be amazed at what you can do with tutorials on YouTube. I went to the hardware store, knowing exactly what parts I needed and then rummaged through my husband's toolbox to find the correct tools for the job. Step-by-step &mdash; and with a few rewinds and playbacks &mdash; I repaired that faucet. Just me and the guy on YouTube. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/diy-home-improvement-10-free-options-for-training-and-advice?ref=seealso">Free DIY Home Improvement Training and Advice</a>)</p> <p>By the time hubby got home, the leak was fixed and I had learned something new.</p> <h2>7. Read the News</h2> <p>Back during my corporate days, I worked with a woman who could talk about anything &mdash; literally, anything. Foreign affairs, the economy, politics, finance, you name it&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 13px;">&mdash;</span><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;">&nbsp;she had enough information to hold her own in a conversation.</span></p> <p>She had this gift because she paid attention to what was going on in the world around her. She read multiple newspapers and tuned into to an equal number of news shows. She was well-informed, and as a result, she didn't have an opinion that she couldn't thoroughly back up.</p> <p>Of course, the news is only as good as the source providing it. T<span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;">ry finding some solid, non-partisan news sites that strictly report the facts without letting personal motives or beliefs cloud the story. I realize that's not easy these days, but there are still a few sites that do a fairly decent job of reporting only the news. BBC is one, and Reuters and Al Jazeera are good as well. If you have trouble finding sites that you think fit the bill, then at least get your news from a variety of sources, so that you're more likely to get the bigger picture.</span></p> <h2>8. iTunes</h2> <p>I'm currently studying Archeology at Stanford, Astronomy at Oxford, and Philosophy at Yale. How am I doing that? I'm downloading free lectures and courses through iTunes.</p> <p><a href="http://www.apple.com/education/ipad/itunes-u/">iTunes University</a> has grown into quite the extravagant learning tool, so much so that it now has its own section in the iTunes store and its own app as well. Learn languages and sciences, math and history, or delve into the not-so-traditional subjects such as Darwinism, spirituality, and consciousness.</p> <p>And you can do it at your own pace, in your own time.</p> <h2>9. Subscribe to Wikipedia</h2> <p>Did you know that Wikipedia will send you a new &quot;featured&quot; article every single day, right to your email? It's their <a href="https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/daily-article-l">Daily Article Mailing List</a> and it ensures you'll receive something new to read at least once a day. In January for example, you would have read about the constellation Phoenix, the 1939 film Gagak Item, and the American pioneer John Adair.</p> <p>How's that for a broad wealth of knowledge delivered right to your desktop?</p> <h2>10. Expand Your Vocabulary</h2> <p>Remember those word-a-day calendars that we all used to have sitting on our desks? That's where I learned that there are a &quot;plethora&quot; of words that I have yet to use and I should take steps to remedy this lest I want to suffer the &quot;ignominy&quot; of having a limited vocabulary.</p> <p>See how fun that is?</p> <p>Now, all you have to do is subscribe to <a href="http://wordsmith.org/awad/subscribe.html">Word a Day</a> and you'll never have to worry about keeping up with your calendar again.</p> <h2>11. Help Your Kids With Their Homework</h2> <p>If you have school-aged children &mdash; and if you've been out of school for a while &mdash; try helping them with their homework. You might discover you're not smarter than a 5th grader after all.</p> <p>The math they're teaching now is much more advanced than the math they were teaching some (inaudible) years ago when I was in school, and I was both shocked and embarrassed to discover that I needed help to help my kids do their homework. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-places-to-buy-or-rent-textbooks?ref=seealso">20 Places to Buy or Rent Textbooks</a>)</p> <p>But isn't that exactly what the Internet is for?</p> <p>Homework has now turned into an opportunity to learn more about what my kids are working on in school, to reinforce the new concepts and ideas they're being taught and to spend just a little more time with them before they bounce off to play with their friends or zone out on Xbox.</p> <p>I mean, nothing says quality family time like factoring prime numbers or dissecting sentences.</p> <p><em>So, there you have it, my short list for bringing more learning into your life. Now it's your turn. How do you exercise your mind?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kate-luther">Kate Luther</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-learn-something-new-every-day">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-learn-from-your-mistakes">How to Learn From Your Mistakes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-didn-t-learn-in-college-but-you-should-have">10 Things You Didn’t Learn in College (but You Should Have)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/people-who-love-expanding-their-minds-do-these-13-things-do-you">People Who Love Expanding Their Minds Do These 13 Things — Do You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-can-learn-a-new-language-just-use-one-of-these-3-apps">You CAN Learn a New Language — Just Use One of These 3 Apps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/great-ways-to-invest-in-yourself">Great Ways to Invest in Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development free education free learning learning memory Thu, 13 Mar 2014 12:33:00 +0000 Kate Luther 1130215 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Things You Didn’t Learn in College (but You Should Have) http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-didn-t-learn-in-college-but-you-should-have <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-things-you-didn-t-learn-in-college-but-you-should-have" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/thinking-5086391-small.jpg" alt="thinking" title="thinking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I used to see school as a sort of factory &mdash; one that ingested small children and spat out highly trained adults who would be snapped up by big companies that would pay them lots and lots of money.</p> <p>Of course, somewhere along the way, we all tend to come to the (very crushing) realization that it doesn't quite work that way. I think it happens right around when school stops pulling you along from one grade to the next and asks you what you'd like to do with the rest of your life. Oh, and by the way, your happiness, your financial future, and the respect of your family and friends all hang in the balance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tips-for-my-career-clueless-college-self">5 Tips for My Career-Clueless College Self</a>)</p> <p>It's kind of ironic that most of us head to college hoping to get smarter and end up feeling so stupid. This isn't because college doesn't teach you anything, but because it often tends to give the wrong impression. To that end, here are a few things you probably didn't learn in college &mdash; but maybe you should have.</p> <h2>1. Most of What You Learn Will Be Useless</h2> <p>Sorry. It's the truth. Once you graduate, all those facts you worked so hard to memorize will seem so bafflingly inane that you'll wonder why you even bothered. That's no knock on the education system, but most of the struggling you'll do at work will be completely remote from facts, figures, and even logical reasoning; it'll have to do with interpersonal relationships, self doubt, company-specific systems and practices, and plain, old boredom. Your degree will give you some background in your field and possibly some fancy words to use around the water cooler, but most of the real training happens on the ground.</p> <h2>2. It's Not About the Degree</h2> <p>There's a lot of debate about whether an English degree is useless, or a philosophy degree's a waste of time or whether you can get anywhere with sociology. I think these arguments miss the point. Getting a job is not about your degree; it's about you.</p> <p>The degree you choose will give you an opportunity to hone (and discover) your key skills, but it's still up to you to figure out how you're going to capitalize on them. People tend to look at a degree in terms of what it can do for them, but what's actually more productive is looking at how you can use your degree to do something great for an employer. After all, that's what they'll be paying you for.</p> <h2>3. School Isn't Everything</h2> <p>College is this weird microcosm where a quiz suddenly seems like the most important thing in the world. It isn't. That isn't to say you should blow off your studying, but if you're pouring all your efforts into getting straight A's, you might be missing out on things that will actually do you more good in the long run, like getting some experience in your field, volunteering, joining a student organization, or even just making some new friends. These are all things that you can use on a resume, in an interview, and in life. They're things that'll make you stand out. Because let's face it, you're not the only one who can get a 4.0.</p> <h2>4. Your Degree Doesn't Dictate Your Future</h2> <p>If you get a degree in education, you have to become a teacher, right? Otherwise, you're not using your degree. Maybe not, but life's not a straight shot to the finish line. Sometimes it's meandering, and while that's pretty frustrating, it's actually a good thing. After all, do you really want to make a beeline for a life you don't want? If you've gone the wrong way, the only thing to do is turn back. Your experiences &mdash; including college &mdash; make you who you are. That's not a mistake. And you don't have to let a decision you made when you were 18 dictate the course of your entire career.</p> <h2>5. Passing Tests Isn't the Point</h2> <p>College &mdash; and school in general &mdash; often teaches us to shove information into our short-term memories, spit it out for a test, and promptly forget it all. Pulling an all nighter might just be a rite of passage, but it isn't learning. That takes time and thought, and it leaves a lasting impression.</p> <h2>6. Creativity Counts</h2> <p>In the Liberal Arts department, creativity is given a free pass, but it seems a bit unwelcome in other classes (business, I'm looking at you). As a result, for a long time, I assumed that some pursuits were creative, while others were not. The truth is that creativity isn't just painting a picture; it's building a business, coming up with a scientific theory, or writing a computer program. In other words, it's about being able to imagine something that doesn't already exist. People who do that tend to be very successful in any field.</p> <h2>7. So Does Your Personality</h2> <p>Some professors try to teach you how to play with others by assigning &quot;group work.&quot; Most people hate it. That's because getting along with people is hard. Just wait until you get to the workforce where the stakes are higher and you could be stuck working alongside the same people for months or years, rather than a few weeks out of a semester. If any of us had any idea how important working and getting along with other people really is, we'd probably put a lot more thought into it, rather than just spending the whole time wishing that group project could be over.</p> <h2>8. There's Luck Involved</h2> <p>University &mdash; and the entire school system &mdash; is propped up by the idea that we can all do whatever we want to do as long as we apply ourselves and try hard enough. Sorry. Not true.</p> <p>If you're colorblind, you can't be a pilot. You can't be a veterinarian if you're deathly allergic to animals. And there's a little bit of luck involved in succeeding at just about anything. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try. What it means is that you have to go in knowing that failure's a possibility and that if and when it happens, you'll be ready to face it. It also means you should keep an eye out for any lucky break you can get.</p> <h2>9. It Isn't About the Money</h2> <p>College often teaches us how to find high-paying jobs, but it misses the other side of the equation &mdash; how to properly manage the money we make. If you haven't already, take some time to learn about <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tips-for-improving-or-starting-a-budget">budgeting</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/37-savings-changes-you-can-make-today">saving</a>, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/begin-your-investing-career-right-with-some-mutual-fund-basics">investing</a>. That way you'll be able to get the most of what you earn, rather than making way more and having remarkably little to show for it.</p> <h2>10. You Never Really Graduate</h2> <p>Once you graduate, it's tempting to breathe a sigh of relief &mdash; the hard part is over! Not so fast. If you really want to excel in your career &mdash; and in life &mdash; you have to keep learning. It allows you to stay current in your field, and to discover all the new things that keep life interesting. Plus, do you really want to spend your whole life doing things the wrong way, or just a little while?</p> <p>I learned a lot of things in college (some of which I won't get into), but there are also a lot of things I would've liked to know a little earlier. I guess that's another lesson I had coming to me &mdash; you never know what you don't know...until you do.</p> <p><em>What did you really learn in college?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tara-struyk">Tara Struyk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-didn-t-learn-in-college-but-you-should-have">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/college-resources">40+ College Resources for Parents and Students</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-get-student-loan-debt-forgiveness">8 Ways to Get Student Loan Debt Forgiveness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/great-ways-to-invest-in-yourself">Great Ways to Invest in Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-get-a-legit-business-education-online">3 Ways to Get a Legit Business Education Online</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-places-to-find-cheap-or-free-education">6 Places to Find Cheap (or Free!) Education</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Job Hunting Personal Development college education learning life lessons Mon, 05 Aug 2013 10:24:30 +0000 Tara Struyk 980786 at http://www.wisebread.com Great Ways to Invest in Yourself http://www.wisebread.com/great-ways-to-invest-in-yourself <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/great-ways-to-invest-in-yourself" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/investment.jpg" alt="Two men watching the market" title="Two men watching the market" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="133" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most people are scared of investing because it involves risk. No matter how sure you are about a stock, mutual fund, or business opportunity, there&rsquo;s always the chance that you could lose all your money.</p> <p>And that&rsquo;s scary.</p> <p>So what if I told you there&rsquo;s a way to invest with absolutely no risk? I can&rsquo;t promise an exact return on the investment, but I guarantee it will always be positive.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s called investing in yourself.</p> <p>I know it sounds cheesy, but when was the last time you learned something new made you a better employee or job candidate? Instead of trying to get rich by putting huge piles of your hard-earned money into a stock you think is going to go up, why not invest time and money into improving your skills and boosting your earning power? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-investment-yourself">Best Investment: Yourself</a>)</p> <p>More skills can lead to a higher pay, more job opportunities, and added job security. Bonus &mdash; more skills also make you <a target="_blank" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Most_Interesting_Man_in_the_World">more interesting</a>.</p> <p>That sounds great, but how do you invest in yourself without going back to school and paying thousands of dollars for a degree?</p> <p>Here are some ways you can invest in yourself to boost your skills.</p> <h2>Read a Book</h2> <p>Books are my favorite way of learning new things. Everything I learned about investing and personal finance I learned from reading books. I read everything I could get my hands on and became knowledgeable enough that I started my own site, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.thewriterscoin.com">The Writer&rsquo;s Coin</a>. I recommend <a target="_blank" href="http://www.amazon.com/Will-Teach-You-Be-Rich/dp/0761147489"><em>I Will Teach You to Be Rich</em></a> by Ramit Sethi to start.</p> <h2>Start a Blog/Site</h2> <p>When I started my site I did it because I felt I had something to say about personal finance. I had no idea it was going to teach me about networking, social media, SEO, entrepreneurship, CSS, and PHP, or that it would start to make real money for me. Bonus &mdash; blogging regularly will make you a better writer, and that&rsquo;s an essential skill in the world today. Go to <a target="_blank" href="http://www.Wordpress.com">Wordpress.com</a> and start your own blog today &mdash; it&rsquo;s free!</p> <h2>Subscribe to a New Site</h2> <p>Learn <a target="_blank" href="http://www.problogger.net/what-is-rss/">what an RSS fee is</a>. Then start adding new sites to your reader, and you&rsquo;ll stay up to date on whatever topic you&rsquo;re curious about. This is how I injected myself into the personal finance blogosphere.</p> <h2>Take a Course</h2> <p>There's a course for anything you can imagine out there. Whether it&rsquo;s a local class to learn how to cook or an online course about computer programming, if you can think it, I guarantee someone out there is teaching it. You&rsquo;ll meet new people, learn new skills, and broaden your horizons. Thanks to the Internet you can learn pretty much anything you can think of. <a href="http://www.apple.com/education/itunes-u/">iTunes U</a> has tons of cool courses for free!</p> <h2>Teach Something</h2> <p>The best way to become an expert on something is to have deep knowledge of it and then try to teach it to others. It <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-improve-your-memory-and-even-get-a-little-smarter">works your brain</a> in a totally different (and good) way. Plus you&rsquo;ll meet some interesting people. Pick a sport/instrument/topic you know a lot about and teach your niece/nephew/child a basic concept about it &mdash; you gotta start somewhere!</p> <h2>Learn a Language</h2> <p>This is easier said than done, but if your job requires a lot of travel or will be investing in another country soon, then another language might be essential. Tip &mdash;<strong> </strong><a target="_blank" href="http://www.duolingo.com">Duolingo</a> is gonna be awesome.</p> <h2>Freelance</h2> <p>Freelancing is a great way to get a taste of another job without leaving your current one. It&rsquo;ll also teach you about handling clients, running a business, and marketing.<strong> </strong><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-awesome-websites-to-help-you-get-a-job">Check out Craigslist</a> or ask your friends if they need help with something.</p> <h3>Be Smart About the Skills You Learn</h3> <p>Don't expect your boss to give you a raise simply because you can say &quot;hello&quot; in French. Be smart about which skills you tackle and how they fit into your career plan. If your company just signed a major client from France, then go ahead. If you're doing it because you like Paris, it probably won't have an effect on your value to the company.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carlos-portocarrero">Carlos Portocarrero</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/great-ways-to-invest-in-yourself">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-free-ways-to-learn-something-new">15 Free Ways to Learn Something New</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-didn-t-learn-in-college-but-you-should-have">10 Things You Didn’t Learn in College (but You Should Have)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-fun-activities-to-help-you-tighten-up-your-work-skills">9 Fun Activities to Help You Tighten Up Your Work Skills</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/learn-all-the-frugal-skills-you-need-with-these-9-great-video-tutorials">Learn All the Frugal Skills You Need With These 9 Great Video Tutorials</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-learn-from-your-mistakes">How to Learn From Your Mistakes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Personal Development investing in yourself learning skills Tue, 31 Jan 2012 11:00:16 +0000 Carlos Portocarrero 880960 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Learn From Your Mistakes http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-learn-from-your-mistakes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-learn-from-your-mistakes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/make_mistakes.jpg" alt="Presentation slide on making mistakes" title="Presentation slide on making mistakes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="143" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Failure is often championed as a critical step in the path to eventual success. The accomplished are those who know how to learn from their mistakes, not people who never make mistakes.</p> <p>Billionaire Richard Branson is among those <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/13-business-leaders-who-failed-before-they-succeeded">very successful business leaders who have overcome failure</a>. As founder of <a href="http://www.virgin.com/">Virgin Group</a>, he says that he routinely learns from mistakes such as the <a href="http://www.livemint.com/2010/08/02205701/IDENTIFYANDLEARN-FROMMISTAK.html?atype=tp">Virgin Cola fiasco</a>. The abilities to overcome obstacles, understand why you made a mistake or experienced failure, and take corrective actions &mdash; along with the willingness to abandon a failing venture &mdash; are keys to success.</p> <p>Closer to home, my teenage son recalls this (paraphrased) quote from inventor <a href="http://www.thomasedison.com/index.html">Thomas Edison</a> in reference to his experiments: &quot;I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.&quot; As such, he has been encouraged to try new things, take risks, and learn through trial and error.</p> <p>In theory, I understand the concept. Learn from your mistakes in order to move forward in life.</p> <p>But, how, precisely, does this process work? How do we learn from our mistakes rather than repeat them, hoping for better results the next time? How do we stop simply persevering and start getting things right?</p> <p>Here are steps you can take to learn from your mistakes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fixing-mistakes-7-steps-for-any-situation">Fixing Mistakes: 7 Steps for Any Situation</a>)</p> <h3>Recognize the Mistake</h3> <p>The first step, and the most crucial, is recognizing when you have made a mistake.</p> <p>You may blame circumstances for a setback rather than admitting that you did something wrong, either deliberately or unintentionally. It&rsquo;s true that a particularly freakish set of conditions may have nullified the effectiveness of your right action, and such a situation may never occur again.</p> <p>My son, who seems to have an innate ability to learn from mistakes, sets a limit on tries (his number is five) before starting to troubleshoot problems; at that point, he realizes that something is wrong with his approach or there is a factor that he has not considered.</p> <p>To determine if you are repeatedly making the same mistakes, consider patterns. Do circumstances that you have mentally labeled &ldquo;unusual&rdquo; occur repeatedly? If such situations are really the norm, then come to terms with the idea that you are making mistakes over and over.</p> <p>Take time to reflect on your actions (or absence of actions) in order to determine whether you made a mistake, whether someone else was at fault, or whether uncontrollable circumstances were not conducive to success.</p> <h3>Pinpoint the Cause of the Mistake</h3> <p>Determine the specific action that was a mistake. Figure out what caused an error or triggered a series of missteps.</p> <p>Bad habits can lead to simple mistakes. For example, you may routinely leave late for work, causing you to take unnecessary risks on the drive to your office; you may overbook your calendar and find that you forget or miss appointments; or you may multitask so often so that you don't pay attention to important conversations and miss details that cause errors.</p> <p>Whether you find yourself navigating new territory or going over old ground, there may be many possible causes of mistakes. Consider all factors.</p> <p>For example, as a job hunter, you may have made a mistake when you made an innocuous comment deemed inappropriate by an interviewer. However, your remark could have been insightful, relevant, and appropriate in another setting with another employer or hiring manager. In this scenario, the mistake could have been caused by one of these errors:</p> <ul> <li>Being careless in your speech<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Responding too quickly and forgetting to ask a clarifying question that would have allowed you to craft a more appropriate response<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Failing to research companies to understand which comments are acceptable and which are not<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Pursuing opportunities with organizations that are not a good fit with your professional style and capabilities</li> </ul> <p>Consider both the big picture and small details when analyzing what went wrong.</p> <h3>Dissect Your Rationale and Find the Flaw in Your Thinking</h3> <p>You can readily identify what went wrong if you can define what you hoped would happen and why. How did you imagine things would unfold? And how did things actually happen?</p> <p>Think about your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/goal-setting-defined-and-deconstructed">goals</a>, whether for a work project, a blind date, an email exchange, multi-year business initiative, or a training regimen for a 5K. Evaluate your strategy, plans, and execution in order to analyze your current situation and determine what has happened to prevent you from realizing your objectives.</p> <p>Ask yourself questions like these:</p> <ul> <li>Were my goals reasonable and attainable? Did I make a mistake in setting goals?<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Did I make accurate assumptions about my capabilities and the challenges? Did I make a mistake in judging the situation?<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Did my strategies make sense, given circumstances and goals? Did I make a mistake in charting my course and choosing my methods?<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>How logically organized, feasible, and complete was my plan? Did I make a mistake in creating the plan?<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Did my team, colleagues, friends, and I follow the plan? Did I make a mistake in executing the plan?</li> </ul> <p>Narrow down where you may have failed.</p> <h3>Be Ruthless in Your Judgment of Yourself</h3> <p>Consider your actions from an outsider's perspective. Think about what you did and whether you made a good decision given the information you had at the time. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, analyze your approaches, and be honest about whether you had the capabilities to avoid missteps. Very often, this ruthlessness will allow you to see more clearly and understand what you should have done instead.</p> <p>You don't need to publicly confess your mistakes in order to learn from them. And you certainly don't need to condemn yourself as a failure. But if you reflect on how you contributed to mistakes, then you are much more likely to correct yourself and succeed the next time.</p> <h3>Research</h3> <p>Do research to find out how other people have approached situations similar to yours. You may not find the exact answer, but you can get a sense of what issues you should consider in understanding and recovering from your mistake. This information can be useful when you speak with others about your challenges, showing that you have considered possible problems and helping you to engage in a meaningful dialogue.</p> <h3>Listen to Other People</h3> <p>Often, you need outside help to learn what you&rsquo;ve done wrong.</p> <p>Sometimes people will point out your mistakes. Occasionally, these folks can give you valuable insights. But beware of those who dispense one-size-fits-all advice, which is generally not helpful.</p> <p>A better way to learn from your mistakes is to ask for advice from an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-become-an-expert">expert</a>. Find someone who is wise and trustworthy, who is willing to listen to your explanations of what you've tried so far, and who has experienced success in the areas in which you want to excel.</p> <h3>Apply What You Have Learned<o:p></o:p></h3> <p>After you have determined what you did wrong in the first place, start behaving in a different way. Try a new approach. Implement a recommendation.</p> <p>If a situation seems complex, fix one thing and then continue making adjustments. You may find that eliminating one type of mistake gives you clarity to recognize and correct other problems.</p> <p>Look at your results. Notice what happens when you make mistakes and when you take the right actions. Experiencing success gives you motivation to be ruthless with yourself in future endeavors. You won't stop making mistakes, but errors and failures won't bother you that much; you'll just keep learning as you go.</p> <p><em>How do you learn from mistakes?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-learn-from-your-mistakes">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/great-ways-to-invest-in-yourself">Great Ways to Invest in Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-improve-your-decision-making-skills">10 Ways to Improve Your Decision-Making Skills</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/change-your-life-by-learning-how-to-admit-youre-wrong">Change Your Life by Learning How to Admit You&#039;re Wrong</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-didn-t-learn-in-college-but-you-should-have">10 Things You Didn’t Learn in College (but You Should Have)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-immaturity-can-make-you-happier-and-more-successful">7 Ways Immaturity Can Make You Happier and More Successful</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development failure learning learning from mistakes Mistakes Wed, 28 Sep 2011 10:36:12 +0000 Julie Rains 709327 at http://www.wisebread.com 27 Real-Life Small Business Mistakes...and What They Learned http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/27-real-life-small-business-mistakesand-what-they-learned <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/27-real-life-small-business-mistakes-and-what-they-learned-part-i" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/27-real-life-small-business-mistakes-and-what-...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/27-real-life-small-business-mistakesand-what-they-learned" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000015199445Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Twenty-seven ways you can mess up in small business means twenty-seven ways you can learn something and do better the next time. You don't build success on success alone; you build success on one failure after another &mdash; if you learn from those failures and move forward. What can you learn from these real-life business mistakes?</p> <p><strong>1. Depending on a single source.</strong></p> <p>Scott Newman, president of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.usmarkerboard.com/?gclid=CL3kv8af4KgCFQcnbAodr2BpGQ">Massachusetts-based US Markerboard</a>, was depending largely on a single manufacturer for his product. When the manufacturer took on another distributor and wasn't able to meet US Markerboard's product needs, Newman found himself scrambling to find manufacturers, compare products and prices, and fill his orders in the middle of his busiest time of the year.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Don't place your business success in the hands of a single manufacturer, distributor, or other source.</p> <p><strong>2. Not developing supplier relationships soon enough.</strong></p> <p>Newman regrets not beginning to develop supplier relationships long before his need arose, which would have given him the time to do research, compare prices, negotiate terms, and schedule his orders in time to get them delivered when he needed them.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Even if you currently do not need additional supply sources, you should be looking and comparing long before you do. Developing solid relationships takes time, and you don't want to be forced to settle for what's available when the time comes.</p> <p><strong>3. Missing the obvious.</strong></p> <p>Sometimes the thing that will make your business a success is so obvious you miss it. That's what happened to Kirk Ward, a retired accountant who wasted time and money on various Internet marketing ideas, none of them successful, before realizing his business was sitting in a box, in the form of all the marketing materials he had created over the course of his accounting career. Ward turned them into a collection of articles, tools, and online classes for accountants, <a target="_blank" href="http://secrets-of-marketing-accounting-services.com/">Secrets of Marketing Accounting Services</a>, and started selling what he already knew.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: The newest, biggest, brightest, shiniest product or idea doesn't necessarily become the best business venture. Much of your value as a future business success is in what you already know. Dig into your own experience and expertise first.</p> <p><strong>4. Assuming that a professional product will solve all your problems.</strong></p> <p>Ward's initial success with his marketing-for-accountants website hit a major speed bump when he decided to trade in his &quot;cheaply made custom software&quot; for a professional, packaged, pricier software. Ward's customers started complaining, and Ward found himself losing the business he'd built up and unable to get help from the professional customer service team attached to the software.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Don't assume that a professional name, image, or package guarantees a professional performance or a professional, helpful support team. Do your research before you invest in pricier options, get real feedback from real people, and then make your choice based on what you find from that research.</p> <p><strong>5. Staying with something that's not working.</strong></p> <p>For small business owners of all stripes, making a big investment in some sort of professional solution, product innovation, or outsourced help can be a real boon. But if it isn't, and the investment isn't worth the return, many small business owners tend to stay with the investment for too long.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: If you spend money on something that turns out to be a flop, realize it quickly and let it go as fast as you can. You may not be able to recover that investment, but the more time you waste on trying to make something worthless into something worthwhile, the more money you lose in profitability and growth.</p> <p><strong>6. Not checking your URL.</strong></p> <p>Since the Internet is so undeniably a part of commerce, grabbing a business URL and setting up a business website is (or should be) an assumed part of any business marketing plan. URLs can come with a history, however, and not always a good one. In the case of Derrith Lambka, CEO of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.marketingzone.com/">how-to website MarketingZone.com</a>, his URL came with a blacklist notation. The company which had owned the URL before Lambka had gotten blacklisted by Google; it took petitioning to be recognized as a new company, with a significant delay in building website traffic, before MarketingZone.com was cleared and able to start growing.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Do your homework on URL purchases before you invest hundreds or thousands of dollars. A formerly blacklisted URL doesn't mean you can't clear it and use it, but far better to know about the problem and start solving it from Day One, while you get a website built and content created, than to figure it out months down the road.</p> <p><strong>7. Not developing a cohesive marketing plan.</strong></p> <p>Even experts can miss important business steps. Leslie Truex, author of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.workathomesuccessbible/"><i>The Work-At-Home Success Bible</i></a>, cites her own failure to develop a marketing plan that was more than &quot;a hodgepodge of tactics that I'd throw together when business dropped.&quot;</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Lack of a marketing plan means you'll be scrambling to come up with some method when business gets tight. To succeed, you need to be marketing consistently, building relationships, developing a cohesive brand and image, and laying the foundation for a business that keeps growing from the first day onward.</p> <p><strong>8. Not marketing on a daily basis.</strong></p> <p>Truex shares that, &quot;it's easier to maintain a steady stream of business if I include marketing in my daily business activities.&quot; Many small business owners make the mistake of marketing only in case of emergency: we're out of funds, we're out of customers, we lost a client, we need cash now. Haphazard marketing will yield only haphazard results.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Market your business daily. Even ten or twenty minutes every day, consistently spent on a good marketing strategy, will build into a steady stream of relationships, referrals, and business growth.</p> <p><strong>9. Assuming that others will do the right thing.</strong></p> <p>While trust is an important part of business relationships, you shouldn't assume that your employees are trustworthy just because you are. Cyndi Finkle was running a successful business catering for television crews when three of her own employees overheard her say that she had no competition. They promptly, and secretly, formed their own business and began contacting Finkle's clients while still working for Finkle's company. &quot;Since I do the right thing, I always believed that others would do the right thing,&quot; says Finkle. &quot;But I learned that not all people have the same work or moral ethic &mdash; and that, when given the opportunity, others will lie and steal and cheat.&quot;</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Paranoia won't serve you well, but awareness of the simple truth that greed is a powerful motivation is important. Finkle, now running <a target="_blank" href="http://www.artworksstudio.org/">Art Works studio and classroom</a>, as well as her catering business, puts it this way: &quot;in order to protect yourself, you need to be more careful and less trustworthy &mdash; especially of people you do not know directly.&quot;</p> <p><strong>10. Mistaking a business relationship for a personal relationship.</strong></p> <p>Since small business owners do invest so much personally into their businesses, from home office space to personal finances, in many cases, it's easy for them to invest emotionally in business relationships in the same way they might invest in personal relationships. While business relationships are often as beneficial and long-term as some personal relationships, you can't assume the same level of personal commitment that you would from a family member or close friend.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Business relationships can turn into valued personal relationships, but don't mistake one for the other. Invest in your business relationship, but don't depend on them, and don't approach them with the assumption that you share mutual values and goals.</p> <p><strong>11. Not hiring help soon enough.</strong></p> <p>Moving from one-man shop to small business with employees is a difficult transition. Hana Johnson, owner of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.hairflairs.com/">Hair Flairs LLC</a>, notes that, &quot;once you are overwhelmed, overworked, and stretched too thin, then the hiring process becomes burdensome and becomes a chore in itself.&quot; Johnson's own experience shows that every new hire leads to new business growth, as she can move from doing the daily, detail work of business to focus on marketing and bringing in new customers.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Your ability does not equal your responsibility. Sure, you can do every little thing involved in running your business, but you should be doing the work of the owner, not the work of the $10 an hour employee. Delegating is the best way to help your business grow.</p> <p><strong>12. Delegating too late.</strong></p> <p>Waiting until you're overwhelmed, as Johnson mentioned, to get new help or delegate additional work to current employees, means that the process of delegation will be tougher on everyone involved. You'll be stressed out and feeling like you have no time to adequately train your employee, and your employee will feel unnecessary pressure to do a new job without adequate training, time, or help.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Develop a plan to delegate from the earliest days of your business, and start training your employee(s) before you hit a crisis point. You can always stay involved in certain tasks or projects as you are able, but the sooner you delegate what you can, the sooner you can focus on your most important work.</p> <p><strong>13. Not paying attention to your branding.</strong></p> <p>Sometimes good enough is good enough. Sometimes good enough is bad. Melissa Turner, excited to be able to start marketing her company, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.msmbinc.com/">Mainstream Services Inc.</a>, ordered hundreds of dollars of promotional items without first checking their quality and brand consistency. She ended up with a collection of not-nearly-good-enough items: mismatched colors, missing slogans, and unreadable business cards.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: &quot;What I leave behind with networking associates and potential clients can wipe out any positive, professional first impression I may think I made,&quot; says Turner. &quot;Taking the time upfront to check and double check everything that will present my name, image, logo and slogan is priceless in the end.&quot;</p> <p><strong>14. Assuming that a professional image doesn't matter.</strong></p> <p>When you're working with minimal funds, it's easy to decide that a professional image is an option. You wait on branding, a logo, custom graphic design, a decent website, right? You've got a good product. People will recognize that...won't they? Not necessarily. The Internet, with all its multimedia options, has made us more image-conscious as consumers, not less.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Though it's easy enough to throw together a halfway-decent website, some sort of content, and a collection of semi-related marketing materials (<i>Everything is red! It must be cohesive!</i>), a thrown-together look results in the perception that you are an amateur, and your business itself is thrown together.</p> <p><strong>15. Using an unnecessary professional service.</strong></p> <p>A professional image matters, but that doesn't mean that do-it-yourself isn't a valid approach. Depending on your skills, contacts, and past experience, you may be just as capable of professional results as the services you could hire. Joshua Weaver, of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pricefalls.com/">PriceFalls.com</a>, found that the huge investment they made in hiring a professional public relations firm was unnecessary. After several months of disappointing results, Weaver and company took their marketing and PR in-house, and were able to save money and make their outreach more targeted, personal, and consistent with the company mission.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Getting a professional job done does not necessarily mean hiring a professional service to do it. Don't be afraid to look into all your options. Define the results you want, then decide if the best way to get them is by outsourcing, hiring, or doing it yourself, or some combination.</p> <p><strong>16. Not doing your research first.</strong></p> <p>When it comes to areas in which small business owners feel inadequate, they are tempted to simply go with the first option available and hope it all works out. The results can be fine; sometimes in a hit-or-miss situation, you get the hit. But you can miss, too, and it can cost you in terms of time, money, and reputation.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: If you feel too busy to do the research into your best options, whether for public relations, a new manufacturer, a supplier relationship, product packaging, or hiring, then delegate the work of research to someone else in your business.</p> <p><strong>17. Failing to look into the future.</strong></p> <p>Not that you need a crystal ball, but you do need to anticipate customer turnover and continuing profit growth. Ian Aronovich, cofounder of <a target="_blank" href="http://governmentauctions.org/">GovernmentAuctions.org</a>, says that their initial revenue model of an annual membership fee failed to consider what would happen when the year was up. Though Aronovich had good success in gaining first-year customers, turnover was high when the time came for customers to renew.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: &quot;At that time, we were only thinking in the 'now,'&quot; says Aronovich. &quot;We failed to think about how we would attend to customers after the 365 days was up.&quot; Focusing on current profit is important, but it must be coupled with a clear plan for future profit as well.</p> <p><strong>18. Not making it easy on the customers.</strong></p> <p>Aronovich learned a simple truth that all small business owners must understand: people are lazy. Because customers had to re-enter all their financial information in order to renew their annual membership, many of them simply let the membership expire rather than go through the &quot;work&quot; of renewing it. When Aronovich switched to a revenue model of recurring monthly payments, the company was able to retain current customers as well as gain new ones.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Don't make your customers work in order to buy your service or product. It's your job to do the work. Make purchasing, renewing, updating, and upgrading as simple and easy as you possibly can. Don't try to make people less lazy; make the purchase less difficult.</p> <p><strong>19. Ignoring growth plateaus.</strong></p> <p>Every small business will go through phases of growth and plateau, at least to some degree. However, it's a deadly mistake to assume that you've simply reached the highest level of growth you can achieve and sit back. &quot;If you're not growing, you're dying,&quot; is an adage every business owner should know at gut-level. Growth must continue.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Don't let your business die because you assume a growth plateau is normal. When you reach a point of slow or no growth, go back and examine your revenue model, your customer service, your marketing, your everything. Tweak, test, repeat.</p> <p><strong>20. Letting &quot;small purchases&quot; in discretionary spending go unchecked.</strong></p> <p>The strange dichotomy of small business finances is this: when you bootstrap your way up, or sweat blood and tears for every penny of capital you raise, you value money and guard it ferociously. Then you start making it, and seeing those profits increase, and believing that you will actually succeed, and suddenly...the ferocious guarding of money turns into a little extra spending, a few too many discretionary purchases.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Ed Buchholz of virtual CFO service <a target="_blank" href="http://www.60mo.com/">60mo</a> says that new businesses, including his own, can unintentionally &quot;hemorrhage funds for unnecessary dinners, travel, and swag when they don't have a clear budget and insight into their spending. The point of having a budget is to avoid waste.&quot;</p> <p><strong>21. Undervaluing your product.</strong></p> <p>New businesses are especially susceptible to the lure of new customers. You're hungry for business, you're still establishing your costs and timing, and getting that contract matters more than getting an adequate deposit or a decent price. It's a mistake Craig Wolfe, president of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.celebriducks.com/">Celebriducks</a>, made early on by charging an inadequate deposit for what turned out to be a costly customer relationship.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: As Wolfe says, &quot;always know that you are never without options.&quot; Value your product or service adequately, even if you are desperate for customers; remember that once you set the value, it's difficult to raise it. So set it where it should be, produce something high-quality, market, and don't let temporary desperation push you in a deal that isn't a deal at all.</p> <p><strong>22. Not spelling out clear terms of contract.</strong></p> <p>While most small business owners are aware of the need to create appropriate legal documents for their own business structures, they often overlook the need for clearly defined terms when setting up vendor contracts, customer agreements, and even employee descriptions. Lack of clearly defined terms, at best, will lead to confusion for all the people involved; at worst, it can lead to legal liability and significant loss of money and reputation.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Get it in writing. Every time. In every situation. You can get many business templates, customize them to your needs, and have a specialized contract, agreement, or letter ready in a short amount of time. All parties involved should read, sign, and date the document, at the least.</p> <p><strong>23. Going in with the wrong mindset.</strong></p> <p>For <a target="_blank" href="http://www.normahollis.com/">professional speaker Norma T. Hollis</a>, the switch to small business owner was a difficult one because of her background in non-profit work. &quot;You cannot open a business with a non-profit way of viewing the financial world,&quot; says Hollis. The entrepreneur's life can require, on any given day, that you be ready to promote your business, win your investors, take calculated risks, think creatively, do your own guerilla marketing, network incessantly, take some downtime, listen to new ideas, let go of old methodology, train new employees, answer customer questions, rethink your entire business strategy. An entrepreneurial mindset is different than most others.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Train yourself to break out of thinking like an employee, or assuming that things will be accomplished for you. Cultivate the gift of flexibility. Read the works of entrepreneurs. Be eager to learn.</p> <p><strong>24. Putting yourself in the wrong position.</strong></p> <p>Hollis relates her initial attempt in small business, to establish a speakers' bureau, as a mistake. &quot;Right industry, wrong position in the industry. I really didn't know my gifts and talents and that my best skill is sharing my knowledge and helping other people. As a speakers' bureau the main role is marketing &mdash; lots and lots of marketing and that's not my strength.&quot;</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Hollis switched from running a speakers' bureau to being a professional speaker, a role which fits her strengths and passions. You'll automatically be more successful at what you're good at and what you love to do. Figure out exactly what that is, and adjust your position in the business as needed.</p> <p><strong>25. Not knowing or accommodating your best work style.</strong></p> <p>Some small business owners work best surrounded by people, in high-energy and high-pressure situations. Interaction stimulates their creativity. Others need space, quiet, time. Some work best with a steady daily schedule, others will pull all-nighters to get a project done, crash for a couple of days, and do it all over again. There's no right or wrong style of working; there's just the mistake of trying to make yourself work in a way that, literally, doesn't work for you.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Know thyself. You can't make everything just the way you want it, but if you know the factors that help you become most productive, you can build them into your life consciously, and reduce the situations that diminish your productivity.</p> <p><strong>26. Failing to validate the business model.</strong></p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.consulting-business.com/">Business consultant Michael Zipursky</a> sees a common mistake made in entrepreneurial circles: &quot;The single biggest mistake small business owners make is building without first validating their business model.&quot; You get excited about an idea, you ask a few friends what they think, and then you hit the ground running. Mistake.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: &quot;Small business owners need to ensure that people are willing to pay them real money for whatever it is they are offering,&quot; says Zipursky. &quot;Without that validation... a lot of time and money can be wasted.&quot;</p> <p><strong>27. Failing to identify and use competitive advantage.</strong></p> <p>Competitive advantage is the angle you have which separates you from the competition. It may be unique to your business. It may simply be an advantage that your competitors share but haven't used as an identifying feature. Either way, failing to find a strong competitive advantage and use it in your marketing is a common mistake, and one that can keep you from attracting and retaining customers who see no reason to switch from the competition to you.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Zipursky again: &quot;Small business owners need to clearly articulate to their market what makes them different and why they are a better alternative to others offering the same products/services.&quot; With a clearly articulated competitive advantage, you're making it easy on customers to choose you rather than your competition.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/27-real-life-small-business-mistakesand-what-they-learned">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-improve-your-performance-at-work">12 Ways to Improve Your Performance at Work</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-small-business-benefits-of-a-bulk-buying-club-your-chance-to-win">Sam&#039;s Club Giving Away a Free Membership and $100 Gift Certificate to One Lucky Wise Bread Reader</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-dont-need-a-college-degree-to-succeed">Why You Don&#039;t Need a College Degree to Succeed</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center business education business mistakes common business mistakes learning small business Fri, 27 May 2011 23:13:16 +0000 Annie Mueller 545048 at http://www.wisebread.com